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Establishment of Ordered Keratin Structures and Crosslinkages for Production of High-performance Textile Fibers, Adsorbents and Composites from Chicken Feathers

Bingnan Mu, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This project focuses on the substantial recovery of ordered keratin structures as well as crosslinkages to produce various high-quality products. For a long time, industrial-scale applications with high-value additions of feathers are limited due to challenges of keratin regeneration including poor recovery of order structures and crosslinkages. We applied the stepwise oxidation and drawing to pilot-scale spinning for continuous production of regenerated keratin fibers from feathers. Such a technology resulted in the controlled assembly of disulfide crosslinkages, optimum recovery of the secondary structures, satisfactory mechanical properties, and scalable production of keratin fibers. Ordered keratin structures were further crosslinked on a continuous spinning line at low temperatures using saccharide derivatives. Resultant keratin fibers were comparable to wool in toughness. The retention of fiber tenacity was as high as 92% after immersed in water for 1 week. To achieve high performance of dye sorption, freeze-extrusion was developed to produce 3-dimensional ultra-fine and amorphous keratin-based fibrous matrices. Fibers in matrices were continuous, branched and alignment controlled with high amorphousness, giving fibrous matrices excellent durability and sorption performance. Sorption capacities of these matrices for textile dyes were as high as 1200 mg g-1. Dye removal efficiency remained high using freeze-extruded matrices after multiple cycles of reuses. Chitin nanoparticles with engineered deacetylation were used to substantially induce the formation of ordered keratin structures in bio-composites. Via controlled deacetylation, the degree of crystallinity of keratin-based composites increased from 22% to 37%. As a result, the ductility of keratin-based composites increased by 540% compared to keratin films. The weight retention of composites could be up to 94%. This research shows that stepwise oxidation and drawing, addition of deacetylated chitin nanoparticles induced substantial formation of ordered keratin structures. Sugar-aldehyde crosslinking and deacetylated chitin nanoparticles further reinforced the wet performance of keratin products. Freeze-extrusion helps form fibers with controlled alignments and high amorphousness. Via combination of above techniques, various keratin products with good retention of feather properties have been developed.

Subject Area

Materials science|Environmental science|Textile Research

Recommended Citation

Mu, Bingnan, "Establishment of Ordered Keratin Structures and Crosslinkages for Production of High-performance Textile Fibers, Adsorbents and Composites from Chicken Feathers" (2020). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI28031117.