Students Find New Use of Chicken Feathers: Thermal Insulators, Sound Proofing Materials
Science students from the United Kingdom discovered innovative ways to recycle chicken feather wastes, including its possible utilization as home thermal insulators, sound proofing materials, or blanket insulators for lofts.
Ph.D. student Elena Dieckmann and his business partner Ryan Robinson, founders of the 2016 start-up "Aeropowder", said the billions of chicken feather wastes in Britain can be used for other purpose considering the quality of materials that the feathers are built.
Feather has a high content of keratin, the reason why it is strong yet lightweight. Keratin has also been proven to be excellent thermal insulators, being a water-repellent and a sound absorbing.
Dieckmann and Robinson said that people around the world consume about 134 million chicken every day and feather waste could be a global problem in the future. Each week, there are 2,000 tons of feathers produced in the UK alone.
Ellena saw an opportunity.
During one of her master studies, she focused more on biomaterials especially in looking for sources of keratin.
According to Forbes, she first started with human hair but she observed that feathers produced more coherent material. Elena eventually developed a low-carbon, low-cost conversion process that could take a clean feather and turn them into feather-based products with the help of Ryan.
Imperial College London has reported their first successful prototype: a water-repellent powder coating. They also produced lightweight composite materials where they suspect that "Aeropowder" will make their mark.
On March 2016, Ryan and Elena were awarded the "Mayor of London Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award" for their feather-derived thermal insulation blocks that combined processed feathers into standard insulation materials.
Elena said that their original mix is doing very well but it wasn't biodegradable. She then showed their latest prototype, a lightweight block that actually made from 60 percent feathers.
She added that the product will be a biodegradable when put to landfill and not just thermally insulate a building. The next thing for them is to set up a pilot for them to see how they can integrate the product into a wider supply chain.
"Aeropowder" has been attracting a whole lot of interest now. Elena and Ryan have also won a "Shell LiveWire Smarter Future Award" earlier this year and also shortlisted for the Travis Perkins Innovation Award.
They have a lot of plans including a feather-based blanket insulations for lofts.