Print 7 comment(s) - last by Alexvrb.. on Apr 4 at 8:20 PM

Chicken feathers that were processed with chemicals like methyl acrylate created a thermoplastic that was stable and strong, even when wet

Yiqi Yang, Ph.D., study leader and an authority on biomaterials and biofibers in the Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, and a team of researchers, have created a new technique that utilizes waste chicken feathers in order to produce thermoplastics that can perform even when wet.

Thermoplastics are polyethylene, nylon, polyvinyl chloride and polystyrene, just to name a few. They are one of the most important groups of plastics, and are used to make industrial and consumer products like car bumpers and toothbrush bristles.

Now, Yang and his team have developed a technique for creating thermoplastics that makes use of the billions of pounds of waste chicken feathers produced annually. The purpose of using chicken feathers is to replace oil and natural gas, which are two main ingredients in making thermoplastics. There are worries surrounding petroleum prices and sustainability, which has motivated scientists to search for alternative resources that are preferably biodegradable. With chicken feathers, they are cheap and abundant, with over 3 billion pounds of waste feathers incinerated or found in landfills annually.  

"Others have tried to develop thermoplastics from feathers," said Yang. "But none of them perform well when wet. Using this technique, we believe we're the first to demonstrate that we can make chicken-feather-based thermoplastics stable in water while still maintaining mechanical properties."

The new technique developed by Yang and his colleagues utilized chicken feathers that were processed with chemicals like methyl acrylate, which is found in nail polish. This resulted in a film of "feather-g-poly(methyl acrylate)" plastic. According to Yang, this technique produced a thermoplastic that was stable and strong, even when wet. It was also more tear-resistant. 

"We are trying to develop plastics from renewable resources to replace those derived from petroleum products," said Yang. "Utilizing current wastes as alternative sources for materials is one of the best approaches toward a more sustainable and more environmentally responsible society."

This study was announced at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

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Great use of waste product but...
By Connoisseur on 4/4/2011 9:37:48 AM , Rating: 2
If this does get into everyday products like other thermoplastics, there would definitely be legal issues with animal rights groups, vegetarians, certain religions etc. etc. The legal implications would be daunting.

By MeesterNid on 4/4/2011 10:24:58 AM , Rating: 5
Well, may be the research should continue into how to use animal rights people, vegetarians, etc. to create even better thermoplastics?

By KnightBreed on 4/4/2011 12:11:37 PM , Rating: 2
Protestors from PETA don't make this an issue of legality. Growing chickens is not illegal. Disposing of their feathers is not illegal. Selling waste material to other industries is not illegal either.

It isn't an animal rights issue either. Unless they start growing chickens just for their feathers, which would be stupid.

RE: Great use of waste product but...
By kattanna on 4/4/2011 12:29:53 PM , Rating: 3
while not illegal, seeing the tortured face of some econut not wanting to use a more eco friendly product because they are a vegan and it comes from an animal waste product, now thats humorous

RE: Great use of waste product but...
By Alexvrb on 4/4/2011 8:19:16 PM , Rating: 3
I say give them a choice when it comes to things like seat materials. Leather, or chicken feather derived Pleather.

By Alexvrb on 4/4/2011 8:20:29 PM , Rating: 2
Also, I for one will be doing my part by consuming as many fried chickens as possible each and every year.

Wrong, just wrong...
By Denithor on 4/4/2011 8:38:56 AM , Rating: 4
Thermoplastics are made into these products through the use of heat, which hardens the liquid into a shape, and these plastics can be heated and molded several times.

Heat does not harden the liquid into a shape. It's quite the opposite, actually. At typical room temperature these polymers are solid/hard and melt when exposed to heat. They are molded hot and then cooled to retain the new shape.

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