“One thing feathers have going for them are keratin, a tightly wound, crystal structured protein eight times stronger the cellulose. Feathers are packed with the stuff, but you have to work for it. First the feathers must be ground and then placed in a turbulent air flow separating machine that thrusts the quill segments to the base, blowing the barbs to the top. Then they can be softened with heat and molded into shapes. Often other bioplastics are added to optimize strength or flexibility and to make a lighter plastic.
Unlike petroleum-based plastics, they safely biodegrade, often releasing beneficial nitrogen into the soil.
Schmidt is now one of many researchers internationally working with chicken feathers and to date, estimates he’s processed at least 10,000 pounds of them. He and his colleagues are fond of the phrase ‘making chicken salad out of chicken shit.’
The list of things that the keratin-rich material has been used to make is vast: dishes and furniture, clothing, circuit boards, wall insulation, filters and planting pots (the feathers of one chicken makes three one-gallon containers). Feathers are used to make hurricane-proof roofing, shoe soles, and lightweight auto dashboards and glove compartments leading to fuel efficiency. While most are still prototypes, Schmidt says a “handful” of patents have been licensed by research institutes.”
Full article http://modernfarmer.com/2014/02/chicken-feathers/