img04This project will build on a body of emerging research in the novel area of vegetal protein whereby the oxygen permeation properties of protein-coated plastic films have revealed that protein isolate or concentrate coating solutions displayed excellent oxygen barrier properties at low to intermediate Relative Humidity, comparable to synthetic oxygen barriers as well as the well-known filming properties of protein itself. The benefits of using biomass in composites have been widely reviewed and discussed, as well as the benefit of biomass valorisation for biogas production. Co- and by-products of the pulse processing industry (green peas, beans, lentils) will be used as raw materials for packaging and agriculture plastic materials. This strategy will add new value to crops through a new use of their by-product, which are currently used only as animal feed or fertilisers. A bio-based product derived from renewable resources having recycling ability and triggered biodegradability (i.e. stable in their intended lifetime, but biodegrade after disposal under composting conditions) with commercial viability and environmental acceptability is defined as a “sustainable” bio-based product.

The proposed use of the proteins derived from legumes in bio-material production, such as proteinaceous layer or coating in multilayer or edible packaging materials, biodegradable agricultural films, yarns and pots, as well as the use of legume biomass as fillers in composites or for biogas production, would offer multiple advantages to the European economy and environment. The developed materials are expected to be competitive with petroleum-based alternatives on the short term, especially considering the rise price of petroleum-derived polymers and the lowering price of biodegradable polymers boosted by increased production in emerging countries such as India and China. Materials with protein coatings are expected to show good barrier properties offering an alternative to non-removable polymers such as ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) or silica based coating.