Polypropylene (PP) fibers are heavily used in disposable nonwovens fabrics because of their desirable properties and low-cost, but they are not biodegradable. With the goal of reducing non-biodegradable plastic waste in the environment, the primary aim of this study was to produce fibers with reduced content of PP for disposable fabrics by incorporating soy flour, a bio-based renewable material. An optimum processing temperature of 190 °C was established, and thin fibers with a diameter under 60 µm were successfully melt-spun. Inclusion of compatibilized soy (SFM) at 30 wt% resulted in fibers with a tensile modulus of 674 ± 245 MPa and a yield strength of 18 ± 4 MPa. At 15 wt% SFM, fiber tensile modulus and yield strength were 914 ± 164 and 29 ± 3, respectively. Although lower than those of neat PP fibers (1224 ± 136 MPa and 37 ± 3 MPa), these SFM/PP fiber properties are suitable for nonwoven applications. Additionally, partial presence of soy particulates on fiber surface imparted enhanced water absorption and colorability properties to the fibers while imparting the fibers the feel of natural fibers.Although more difficult to produce, soy-PP fibers possessed similar properties as compared to those of than soy-PE fibers reported in earlier studies.
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