Possible Beneficiation of Waste Chicken Feathers Via Conversion into Biomedical ApplicationsAuthor(s): Khumalo M, Tesfaye T, Sithole B and Ramjugernath D
Keratin-based waste materials such as wool and waste chicken feathers are driving investigations to beneficiate them. The poultry industry in South Africa generates about 230 million kg of waste chicken feathers per annum, which makes them the abundant keratin source. most of which is disposed of by landfilling or combustion. The current disposal techniques through landfilling or combustion are not environmentally friendly. Thus, methods for beneficiation of the waste are needed. Considering that chicken feathers are comprised of mainly keratin, it is plausible that the keratin can be exploited for application in biomedical applications. However, keratin biomaterials have not found a breakthrough in clinical applications. The keratin can be recovered in the form of fibres or dissolved from feathers in suitable solvents. Regenerated keratin biomaterials can take the form of hydrogels, membranes, films, sponges, scaffolds, and nanofibres. These materials possess excellent properties that can be applied to different fields, including the health sector. Currently, there is no review paper that puts together all possible beneficiations of waste chicken feathers keratin in biomedicine. Therefore, this work exposes the chemistry and characteristics of keratin from different sources including chicken feather keratin in relation to their potential use in the biomedical applications. This review also highlights the properties of regenerated keratin and corresponding biomaterials, including electrospun regenerated keratin fibres for biomedical applications. Keratin nanofibres, also possess advanced properties for biomedical applications due to nanofibres reception in medical applications. Keratin is one biopolymer that can function as an acceptable biopolymer. The review indicates that there is a need for biopolymers as many fields rely on petroleum-based polymers which tend to have biocompatibility limits and are unsustainably resourced.