The United Soybean Board has supported research to create soy fibers through melt spun and dry spinning processes and to create nanofibers using soy protein. A continuous melt-extrusion process from a soy-polyethylene (PE) resin has been developed that produces fibers as thin as 40 micrometers. The soy-PE fiber strength and stiffness compares well with the base polyethylene resin at less cost. This type of soy fiber development focuses on limited-use applications such as disposable nonwovens. Researchers are evaluating a two-step process using soy hull cellulose blended with either polyethylene or polylactic acid (PLA) and coated around cotton fibers for commercial fiber in nonwoven applications. The focus is on geotextile applications to prevent soil erosion.
A fiber has been developed from high oleic soybean oil in an ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene compound for marine mooring lines and other applications.