Term of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Physical Science (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Committee Chair

Amanda White

Committee Member 1

Amanda White

Committee Member 2

Rafael Quirino

Committee Member 3

Worlanyo Gato

Committee Member 3 Email



In this study a tung oil based thermoset was reinforced with collagen and fibroin, and the resulting composites were analyzed for their physical properties. Tung tree seed oil is a great candidate for biobased polymer production because its triglycerides are primarily made of alpha eleostearic acid, a fatty acid with three conjugated carbon-carbon double bonds. These double bonds allow for mechanically strong crosslinking in the polymer. It has been observed that polymerized tung oil forms a gel. This issue has been addressed using divinylbenzene (DVB) and n-butyl methacrylate (BMA) as co-monomers. Similar bio-based polymers have been studied and tend to have overall weaker mechanical properties than their crude oil counterparts. Collagen and fibroin are two fibrous proteins that have strong mechanical properties that can reinforce the polymer. Collagen is a protein that forms a strong triple helix. However, after purification, collagen’s triple helix structure has been observed to not be fully maintained due to the incorporation of sodium ions into the collagen structure. In this study, the effect of NaCl on collagen’s reinforcing properties for a tung oil polymeric resin is thoroughly evaluated. A tung oil/DVB/BMA resin has been reinforced with collagen containing varying levels of NaCl. As an alternative to collagen, fibroin has been proposed as a potential reinforcement for tung oil/DVB/BMA resins. The thermo-mechanical properties of the resulting composites have been systematically assessed via thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA). DMA showed at 37 °C collagen reinforcement had increased the storage modulus of the tung oil thermoset from 97.45 MPa to a range of 99.40 MPa - 186.62 MPa. At 37 °C, fibroin reinforcement increased the storage modulus of the tung oil thermoset from 97.45 MPa to a range of 122.23 MPa - 140.98 MPa. TGA showed at T80 there was little change in thermal stability. The highest change being from collagen reinforcement increasing the temperature from 382.30 °C to 424.50 °C. Neither the complete curing of the resin nor the thermal stability were significantly affected by the reinforcement. Collagen and fibroin samples effectively reinforced the resin, by increasing the storage modulus.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material