Preparation, Characterization and Application of Keratin Based Green Biofilms from Waste Chicken Feathers

Author(s): Tamrat Tesfaye, Bruce Sithole and Deresh Ramjugernath

Landfill disposal of synthetic plastics poses one of the biggest threats to the environment due to their non-biodegradability. This problem can be solved by production and use of biodegradable polymers instead. Feathers are a renewable, inexpensive, biodegradable, and easily available by-product of the poultry industry. They have long been considered as a solid waste that poses a serious environmental and economic problems. Avocado seeds are an organic waste that is also disposed of by landfilling. The aim of this study was to beneficiate these two organic wastes via development of green biofilms prepared from starch and keratin extracted from waste avocado seeds and waste chicken feathers, respectively. The films were then studied for their morphological structure, fine detail structure, crystallization behavior, functional group content, moisture content, solubility, tensile properties, moisture regain, and dissolution characteristics. Data on dissolution, water absorption, solubility, moisture content, mechanical properties and morphological structures of the keratin/starch blended films imply that the films could be used in the food packaging industry (as a cost-effective and environmental alternative source of raw material to the commonly used petroleum based materials used in packaging materials; as a raw material in the manufacture of hygiene products, e.g., superabsorbent materials for diaper products; and as a source of raw material for manufacture of biomedical products such as artificial skin products; and in the pharmaceutical industry (e.g., in drug delivery systems).

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