Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

First Advisor

David Grewell


Bio-based plastics are becoming viable alternatives to petroleum-based plastics because they decrease dependence on petroleum derivatives and are more environmentally friendly. Raw materials such as soy flour are widely available, low cost, lightweight, stiffness and have high strength characteristics, but weak interfacial adhesion between the soy flour and the polymer poses a challenge. In this study, soy flour was utilized as a filler in thermoplastic elastomer composites. A surface modification called acetylation was investigated at soy flour concentrations of 10 wt%, 15 wt% and 20 wt%. The mechanical properties of the composites were then compared to that of elastomers without a filler. Chemical characterization of the acetylated soy flour was attempted in order to understand what occurs during the reaction and after completion.

In the range of tests, soy flour loadings were observed to be inversely proportional to tensile strength for both the untreated and treated soy flour. However, the acetylated soy flour at 10 wt% concentration performed comparable to that of the neat rubber and resulted in an increase in tensile strength. Unexpectedly, the acetylation reaction increased elongation, which reduced stress within the composite and is believed to increase the adhesion of the soy flour to that of the elastomer.

In the nuclear magnetic resonance (SS-NMR), the intensity for the treated soy flour was larger than that of the untreated soy flour for the acetyl groups that were attached to the soy flour, particularly, the carbonyl function group next to the deprotonated oxygen and the methyl group next to the carbonyl. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) indicated that the acetylated soy flour is slightly more thermally stable than the untreated soy flour. The treated soy flour also increased the decomposition temperature of the composite.


Copyright Owner

Kendra Allen



File Format


File Size

52 pages