A green composite with good mechanical properties and acceptable biodegradability was developed using wood flour and soybean protein that was modified by thermal-caustic degradation and chemical crosslinking with glyoxal and polyisocyanate (PMDI). Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and scanning electron microscope (SEM) in combination with the traditional evaluations were employed to investigate the structure, morphology, and properties of the crosslinked soybean protein and the crosslinking-modified wood/soybean protein composites to understand the effects of the crosslinker species on the mechanical properties, water resistance, and microbial biodegradation of soybean protein-wood flour composites. The results indicated that the chemical crosslinking modification could improve the mechanical properties and water resistance but decrease the biodegradability of the wood/protein composite to a certain extent. Both glyoxal and PMDI alone as crosslinkers could not perfectly modify the soybean protein because of the high reactivity of PMDI and low crosslinking reactivity of glyoxal. The incorporation of glyoxal with PMDI could result in the desired crosslinking efficiency and good interfacial adhesion by compromising the advantages and disadvantages of glyoxal or PMDI alone as crosslinkers, which balanced the performances of the wood flour/soybean protein composite. The preferable combination crosslinker was composed of 50 wt % glyoxal and 50 wt % PMDI. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2015, 132, 41387.
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