Thermoplastic films from wheat proteins

Lihong Chen, Narendra Reddy, Xiongying Wu, Yiqi Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


We show that the wheat proteins gluten, gliadin and glutenin can be compression molded into thermoplastic films with good tensile strength and water stability. Wheat gluten is inexpensive, abundantly available, derived from renewable resource and therefore widely studied for potential thermoplastic applications. However, previous reports on developing thermoplastics from wheat proteins have used high amounts of glycerol (30-40%) and low molding temperature (90-120. °C) resulting in thermoplastics with poor tensile properties and water stability making them unsuitable for most thermoplastic applications. In this research, we have developed thermoplastic films from wheat gluten, gliadin and glutenin using low glycerol concentration (15%) but high molding temperatures (100-150. °C). Our research shows that wheat protein films with good tensile strength (up to 6.7. MPa) and films that were stable in water can be obtained by choosing appropriate compression molding conditions. Among the wheat proteins, wheat gluten has high strength and elongation whereas glutenin with and without starch had high strength and modulus but relatively low elongation. Gliadin imparts good extensibility but decreased the water stability of gluten films. Gliadin films had strength of 2.2. MPa and good elongation of 46% but the films were unstable in water. Although the tensile properties of wheat protein films are inferior compared to synthetic thermoplastic films, the type of wheat proteins and compression molding conditions can be chosen to obtain wheat protein films with properties suitable for various applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-76
Number of pages7
JournalIndustrial Crops and Products
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Gliadin
  • Glutenin
  • Glycerol
  • Thermoplastics
  • Wheat gluten

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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