Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: October 15, 2002
Publication Date: June 1, 2004
Citation: Schmidt, W.F., Jayasundera, S. 2004. Microcrystalline keratin fiber. In: Wallenberger, F., Weston, N., editors. Natural Fibers Plastics and Composites - Recent Advances. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Norwell, MA. p. 51-66.
Interpretive Summary: Four to five billion pounds of feathers are produced in the US annually. ARS has recently developed a patented process to convert feathers into fiber and fiber products. The process was licensed by three companies and several pilot plants already have the capacity of generating 500 kg of feather fiber each day. The literature is reviewed here describe the current understanding of this natural, biodegradable, renewable, and sustainable source of fiber. The molecular, microcrystalline and/or microscopic (and macroscopic) morphological structures are summarized. These properties are important as new products and end uses are developed.
Biopolymers compose the morphological structures generated in all living organisms. The macroscopic physical properties of biopolymers like keratin are due to molecular level structure and micorcrystallinity, the self-consistent packing arrays of molecular order within a defined space. Fiber processed into end procucts can still retain the microcrystalline properties of the starting material.