Improved mechanical property and water resistance of zein films by plasticization with tributyl citrate.J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Jun 13; 60(23):5988-93.JA
Pure zein film is intrinsically rigid and brittle and lacks necessary mechanical properties for industrial processing. In addition, pure zein film is sensitive to high relative humidity, which limits its application in food packaging. To improve these properties, tributyl citrate (TBC) was incorporated into zein film to the mass ratios from 10% to 50%. A significant decrease in Young's modulus was observed, from 409.86 MPa in pure zein films to 136.29 MPa in zein films with 50% TBC. Among all films, those containing 10% TBC are most flexible and toughest. Both DSC and microscopy methods suggested that the TBC may be loaded up to 20% to avoid microsized phase separation. Through modeling with experimental data, incorporating 50% TBC reduced the water absorption capacity to 12.94% compared to 31.78% by pure zein film. More importantly, the integrity of zein/TBC film was maintained at high relative humidity and even after immersion in water. However, more than 20% TBC in zein films led to microsized phase separation, which was harmful to mechanical properties.