Making polymers from poultry feathers
Engineers at Virginia Tech (US) are trying to turn poultry feathers into a biodegradable plastic, comparable to petroleum-based polymers.
Justin Barone, associate professor of biological systems engineering at the university, is focusing on ways to use under-utilized agricultural by-products (such as feathers, eggs and chicken fat) that are currently used in low-value animal feed or are simply discarded, to create biodegradable plastics. The process would add value to the poultry industry and keep tons of non-biodegradable plastic waste out of landfills.
Barone said the technology has been around for more than 70 years, but the push to increase energy production from feedstocks has made the products more expensive. The research was presented at the American Chemical Society
‘s 233rd National Meeting