Wednesday, 28 June 2006 - 11:10 AM
Federal Room B (Capital Hilton)

Carbonization of chicken feathers for use in biocomposites

Melissa E. N. Miller and Richard P. Wool. University of Delawar, Newark, DE

Synthetic and fossil fuel-based resources are increasing in scarcity and, thus, becoming more expensive. The push for green engineering is not only more environmentally friendly, but also more practical from a business standpoint. The ability to use renewable materials is an innovative challenge faced by those in the green chemistry/engineering field. Chicken feathers, a huge agricultural waste, offer an inexpensive alternative feedstock for synthesizing carbon fiber with biodegradable prospects. The feathers, containing approximately 97% keratin, are currently used in animal feed; although this usage is decreasing with scares of diseases such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, commonly called Mad Cow Disease. Through the use of pyrolysis, chicken feather fibers (CFF) have been synthesized by exposure to N2 first at 225 C for 26 hours followed by 450 C for two hours. This cycle allows for crosslinking to maintain the hollow fiber structure, while still abstracting much of the carbon (80wt% loss). The addition of CFF to an epoxidized soybean oil (AESO) resin results in a biocomposite with a 51% increased modulus, corresponding to 13.566.1 GPa. With continued research, the goals are to increase the stiffness of the composite to 100 GPa, while increasing the strength to the range of 5-10 GPa. Characterization of the feathers will be performed using Xray diffraction, comparing the peaks and Miller Indices to that of polyacrylonitrile (PAN)-based fibers. The hollow structure of the chicken feathers resembles that of graphitic carbon nanotubes and the potential for hydrogen storage and its application will be further analyzed.

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