Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chicken feathers suggested as basis for plastics

The millions of tonnes of chicken feathers discarded each year could be used in plastics, researchers say.

A study reported at the American Chemical Society meeting in the US suggests feathers could lead to more environment-friendly, lighter plastics.

The chemical recipe requires significantly less petroleum-derived material.

However, tests on a grander scale will be necessary to establish the idea's industrial feasibility.

Such "biowaste" materials have been proposed as components of plastic formulations before.

Feathers, like hair and fingernails, are made up principally of the tough and chemically stable protein keratin, and can lend strength while reducing weight in the mixtures of plastics chemicals known as composites.

Researchers at the US agricultural authority have even published research into the possibility of incorporating chicken feathers into plastics, as an additive in composites that are made largely of a chemical polymer.

But the work presented by Yiqi Yang, from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, takes this idea further and uses the chicken feather fibres themselves as a principal ingredient - making up 50% of the mass of the composite.

As a result, the plastics require less of the materials such as polyethylene and polypropylene that are derived from petroleum products.

via BBC News - Chicken feathers suggested as basis for plastics.

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