Transferring feather wastes to ductile keratin filaments towards a sustainable poultry industry

Xiang Mi, Wei Li, Helan Xu, Bingnan Mu, Yue Chang, Yiqi Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Technology for the transformation of waste feathers to quality regenerated filaments has been developed. Regardless of superior properties of natural keratin materials, previously developed regenerated materials from keratin had tensile properties much lower than their natural counterparts due to backbone hydrolysis and inefficient reconstruction of disulfide crosslinkages. In this work, tough keratin filaments have been regenerated from white duck feathers via efficient restoration of disulfide crosslinkages using a dithiol reducing agent. Dithiol substantially reserves free thiol groups in the extraction and formed lengthy intermolecular crosslinkages in regenerated keratin filaments. Due to the high degree of intermolecular reconstruction of disulfide bonds and formation of lengthy crosslinkages via dithiol chain-extension, the keratin filaments exhibited considerable improvements in mechanical properties, especially for ductility and water stability. The tenacity and elongation at break were 160.7 MPa and 14%, respectively. The filaments retained about 80% of the tenacity of natural feathers at either dry or wet conditions and demonstrated stretchability 150% higher than natural feathers. The fiber regeneration technology makes it possible to substitute primary fiber sources by renewable poultry feathers. Successful filament substitution or addition can bring more than 88-billion-dollar revenue. The technology not only contributes to a sustainable fiber and poultry industry but adds substantial values to poultry feathers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-73
Number of pages9
JournalWaste Management
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Feather
  • Keratin
  • Protein filaments
  • Sustainability
  • Waste minimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal


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