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Impact of Acid and Alkaline Pretreatments on the Molecular Network of Wheat Gluten and on the Mechanical Properties of Compression-Molded Glassy Wheat Gluten Bioplastics

Jansens, Koen J. A., Lagrain, Bert, Brijs, Kristof, Goderis, Bart, Smet, Mario, Delcour, Jan A.
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2013 v.61 no.39 pp. 9393-9400
acid treatment, ambient temperature, crosslinking, cystine, ethanol, freeze drying, hydrochloric acid, mechanical properties, mixing, potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, wheat gluten
Wheat gluten can be converted into rigid biobased materials by high-temperature compression molding at low moisture contents. During molding, a cross-linked protein network is formed. This study investigated the effect of mixing gluten with acid/alkali in 70% ethanol at ambient temperature for 16 h followed by ethanol removal, freeze-drying, and compression molding at 130 and 150 °C on network formation and on types of cross-links formed. Alkaline pretreatment (0–100 mmol/L sodium hydroxide or 25 mmol/L potassium hydroxide) strongly affected gluten cross-linking, whereas acid pretreatment (0–25 mmol/L sulfuric acid or 25 mmol/L hydrochloric acid) had limited effect on the gluten network. Molded alkaline-treated gluten showed enhanced cross-linking but also degradation when treated with high alkali concentrations, whereas acid treatment reduced gluten cross-linking. β-Elimination of cystine and lanthionine formation occurred more pronouncedly at higher alkali concentrations. In contrast, formation of disulfide and nondisulfide cross-links during molding was hindered in acid-pretreated gluten. Bioplastic strength was higher for alkali than for acid-pretreated samples, whereas the flexural modulus was only slightly affected by either alkaline or acid pretreatment. Apparently, the ratio of disulfide to nondisulfide cross-links did not affect the mechanical properties of rigid gluten materials.