Scientists replace oil with rapeseed and create environmentally friendly building materials

Although plant-based proteins played a key role in the chemical industry a century ago,

for example, as a binder orglue, their use declined after the boom in the petrochemical industry. TeFuProt partners aim to change this and obtain proteins for industrial use from agricultural waste. The goal of this bioeconomic approach is to counter the scarcity and long-term rise in the price of fossil raw materials and the use of renewable oil as an alternative.

Processing of agricultural raw materials such asrapeseed, leads to a large amount of protein. Such proteins are a by-product of the extraction of rapeseed oil. Residual protein by-products - rapeseed meal and rapeseed cake - have so far been used primarily as food in animal husbandry. But this use is limited due to the bitter substances they contain.

Due to its functional properties, suchAs the ability to form foams, gels and films, and to retain water, the protein fractions of rapeseed meal have enormous potential for a wide range of technical applications. They are ideal as additives for paints, varnishes, adhesives, lubricants, building materials, detergents and polymers.

Plant proteins open the door to developmentnew, environmentally friendly, bio-based products with improved properties. It also reduces our dependence on fossil resources and promotes sustainable production.

Andreas Fetzer, scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Technological Design and Packaging

To harness the full potential of rasp, scientistsconducted a study. The goal is to isolate proteins from rapeseed meal and cake and develop the necessary processes. In addition, biologists were responsible for protein modification and pre-formulation.

Also, as part of the study, the scientists analyzed the technofunctional properties of vegetable proteins from rapeseed - solubility, foaming and emulsification, as well as the properties of film formation.

After defatting the rapeseed, there are residues rich in protein (rapeseed meal and cake). Credit: Fraunhofer IVV.

Film-forming properties, in particular, showedmyself especially well. “When drying proteins dissolved in water, to which a biological plasticizer has been added, the water evaporates in the Petri dish and the proteins are crosslinked to form a stable film. Thus, proteins are generally suitable as alternative binders in paints and varnishes, wood stains or parquet coatings, which usually contain petroleum-based raw materials. Acrylates, for example, can be replaced with protein drugs, ”explains Fetzer. In addition, proteins show the ability to effectively bind dyes or act as barriers. This demonstrated the added benefit of protein-based coatings, especially in the woodworking industry: the colorants effectively prevented "bleeding" from the wood.

Fetzer and colleagues have successfully recovered fourtype of protein through four completely different processes. Scientists defatted, ground and dissolved rapeseed cake in water. The mixture is then centrifuged to separate solids from liquids. Thereafter, the aqueous extract is purified. The recovered protein isolates have a protein content of over 90%.

Rolled rapeseed protein film:the film-forming properties of rapeseed proteins are of great interest for a wide variety of technical applications such as paints, varnishes, polymers, cleaning agents, lubricants or adhesives. Credit: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

The work of German scientists led to the creationpromising products, some of which are already available as prototypes. These include biodegradable films as packaging material for detergent bags as well as wood fiber board from residues and binders modified with rapeseed protein. Fire resistant insulation foams for the construction industry or molded foams for packaging, fiber protection and dye transfer inhibitors in environmentally friendly laundry detergents, thickeners for lubricants or lacquer binders and additives in universal wood cleaners round out the list of innovative, sustainable products.

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Meal is a by-product of oil extraction production. It is obtained after extraction of fat from oil seeds with organic solvents in distillers and evaporators.