040109: Novel "Green" Materials from Soy Meal and Natural Rubber Blends

Petroleum-based plastics are derived from a non-sustainable source, for which alternatives are presently sought. These plastics are also environmentally burdensome because they are not biodegradable. This and other drawbacks associated with petroleum-based plastics have led to increased research efforts toward the development of biodegradable and natural replacements. At present, biodegradable polymers include synthetic polymers, such as polylactic acid (PLA), biopolymers produced by microorganisms, such as polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), and natural biopolymers, such as starch and protein. Of these alternatives, natural biopolymers are especially interesting because they are abundant and low cost. However, there are processing and performance limitations that have hindered the adoption of natural biopolymers. Performance and processing advancements could lead to more rapid adoption of these materials as low-cost alternative to petroleum-based plastics for some applications.


This invention provides blended compositions of soy meal, and methods for the production of thermoset compositions of soy meal with natural rubber. The soy meal is treated in a cost efficient manner to remove non-thermoplastic materials from soy meal, and provides a more workable material for blending. The improved method enables processing that does not require high melting temperatures or large amounts of plasticizers, and does not leach. The resulting compositions are elastic, water resistant, and can be used in place to make film, tubing and rubber bands.


  • Provides low cost blended compositions of soy meal: Soy meal is a very low cost soy-derived raw material compared to other soy proteins. Previously, its usage was limited because processing was difficult due to its high non-thermoplastic content.
  • Provides improved processing and workability of soy meal for blending: Materials are removed that cause soy meal processing to require high temperature processing and plasticizers.
  • Environmentally advantageous: Soy meal is biodegradable and derived from a sustainable source.
  • Improved performance properties: Elastic, water resistant and cold resistant.


This invention is useful as an alternative raw material to petroleum-derived raw materials and more expensive synthetic biopolymers for making films, tubing, and rubber bands.

IP Protection Status

US 2006/0041036 A1 (filed Aug 10, 2005)
US 2007/0155863 A1 (filed Dec 14, 2006)
Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University - Test