Chemical modification of biomass okara using poly(acrylic acid) through free radical graft polymerization
Reference: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2020), in press

Okara (Ok) or soybean residue is produced as a byproduct from the soybean milk and soybean curd industries world wide, most of which is disposed or burned as waste. It is important to explore the possibilities to convert okara to useful materials, because okara is a naturally renewable bioresource. Here, we report the chemical modification of okara by grafting poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) onto the backbones of okara in water medium and the characterization of the Ok-PAA graft copolymers. It was found that the received okara mainly contained insoluble contents in water. The insoluble okara component Ok(Ins) was suspended in water and activated with ammonium persulfate as an initiator, followed by grafting PAA through a free radical polymerisation. After the graft polymerisation, the product (Ok-PAA) was separated into precipitate and supernatant, which were dried to give Ok-PAA(pre) and Ok-PAA(sup), respectively. It was found that PAA was grafted on Ok backbones and co-precipitated with the insoluble Ok. In addition, Ok-PAA(sup) was found to be translucent as a result of the grafting of PAA. Further, the successful grafting of PAA onto okara backbones was proven by Fourier transform infrared, thermogravimetric analysis, and microscopic measurements. Ok-PAA(sup) dispersed in water formed nanoparticles with an average diameter of 420 nm, while Ok-PAA(pre) was clustered coarse particles in water. The rheological data including the storage modulus, loss modulus, and viscosity indicated that the Ok-PAA product was a viscoelastic gel-like material with potential for agricultural and environmental applications.

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Published By
Zhu J., Song X., Tan W. K., Wen Y., Gao Z., Ong C. N., Loh C. S., Swarup S., Li J.