Friday, 29 June 2007 - 10:10 AM
New York Room (Capital Hilton Hotel)

Carbon microtubes from chicken feathers

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

In the United States alone, 5 billion pounds of poultry feathers are generated annually and must be properly disposed. This creates land-fill disposal and potential health problems. This research uses this waste as a valuable feedstock for new, high-performance, bio-based materials. Containing 47.83% carbon, chicken feathers are hollow and strong in nature due to the 91% keratin content. This study takes the use of chicken feathers one step further, by carbonizing them to create strong, inexpensive, hollow fibers. Current research shows that with the carbonization method of heating the chicken feathers at 225 C for 26 hours, followed by 2 hours at 450 C in a nitrogen environment, results in carbonized fibers which maintain their hollow structure. These fibers are added to a soybean oil-based resin to make biocomposites. We are seeing a 236% increase in the composite storage modulus at 35 C, from 0.639 GPa with 0% fiber to 2.145 GPa with 3.45 wt% fiber. The extracted fiber modulus is on the order of 142 GPa, comparable to low/medium modulus carbon fiber. Density gradient experiments show a density in the range of 1.3251.43 g/cm3. The aspect ratio is ~102. Wide-angle X-ray scattering shows an interplanar spacing (d002) of 4.4 in the raw chicken feathers, and a structural change showing 3.36 for carbonized chicken feathers, similar to 3.43 found in commercial carbon fiber. The potential applications range from use in the aerospace industry to airbags, catalysts, ligament repairs, batteries, hydrogen storage, and fuel cells. This project was supported by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, grant number 2005-35504-16137.