Feather fibres help reduce wastage

07 Sep 2015

Feather fibres help reduce wastage

September 07, 2015Product Innovate

Worldwide, the demand for clothing fibres approached 67 mn tonne a year, and much of the resulting output consists of synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon, which are manufactures from petroleum products.

Feather FibreNarendra Reddy and Yiqi Yang, both textile researchers at the University of Bebraska-Linocoln feels that producing high-quality cloth from waste products in large supply, feathers from plucked chickens, could save thousands of barrels of fuel annually. Millions of tonne of chicken feather gather in the waste stream every year.

This researchers are specifically interested in their barbs and barbules, the string network that makes up the fluffy parts of the feather, which may have a similar feel on the skin as wool. The keratin in chicken feathers can be transformed to sustainable fibres with a little aid of nano particles.

The fabrics so produced will be light weight and bouncy. This invention of cloth material from farming cast offs would help limit the usage of synthetic fibres like polyester. Chicken feathers are approximately 91% protein, 1% lipids and 8% water/

Feathers not only confer the ability of flight but are essential for temperature regulation. They are highly ordered, hierarchical branched structures, ranking among the most complex of keratin structures found in vertebrates.

Like more conventional fibers, feathers can be treated with chemicals and enzymes to break down non-essentials components. In the process, whole feathers were ground into powder and their keratin was reduced into water. The reduced keratin was salt precipitated, dried and dissolved anionic liquid with/without bleach cotton. The reduced chicken feather keratin ionic liquid solution were spun into regenerated fibers through dry-wet spinning. It can also be spun into thread with existing textile machinery.

Major Properties:

  • Exceptionally strong
  • Strength is 9.31 grams/tex
  • Good absorbent
  • Decent melting points
  • Feel of down
  • Micronaire value – 4.18 ug/inch
  • Smells like burning hair
  • Residues in black and fluffy which can be crushed easily

Advantages are:

  • Very light
  • Lot of air pockets which are arranged in a honeycomb
  • Good insulators
  • Cushion impact

Disadvantages are:

  • 100% keratin don’t produce high tenacity fibers
  • Better results are seen if used with other fibers
  • Yarns – percentage of feather fibres increased the strength decreased
  • Fabrics – percentage of turkey feather fibers increase the heat retention capability of the fabric increased
  • Insolubility in common solvents
  • It has to be in solution, or at least in a highly swollen condition, in order to extrude the fibers
  • It can be dissolved in strong caustic solutions, but the end product breaks into small pieces
  • Low elasticity


  • Can be used as alternative to wool as well as acrylic fibres for winter such as
    • Sweaters
    • Socks
    • Jackets

Environmental friendly:

  • It not only reduce waste but also our reliance on petroleum-based synthetic fabrics.
  • It makes up to 1.8 bn kg in waste each year in the US

Currently, there are a number of natural and synthetic fibre types available, however other sources of natural fibres have remain unmapped. These sources are often by products of other processes which are usually disposed of as waste materials – potential sources of low cost fibres for the textile industry.

Feathers is an example of waste products providing alternative textile fibres have been discovered. It may serve as an upgrading over wool as its low cost, light weight, fibrous in structure, tough and excellent heat and sound insulation.


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