Submitted to: Composite Science and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 23, 2004
Publication Date: March 1, 2005
Citation: Barone, J.R., Schmidt, W.F., Liebner, C.F. 2005. Compounding and molding of polyethylene composites reinforced with keratin feather fiber. Composite Science and Technology. 65(3-4):683-692.
Interpretive Summary: This paper describes practical methods to process keratin fiber (from feathers) reinforced polymer composites. In addition, the limitations of the material with respect to typical polymer processing techiques are discussed.
Polyethylene-based composites were prepared using keratin feather fiber obtained from chicken feathers. Keratin fibers 0.1 cm long are mixed into high-density polyethylene (HDPE) at 20 weight percent using a Brabender mixing head. This is the compounding step, and the variables studied are compounding time and temperature and state of fiber dispersion. Following compounding, the composites are compression-molded at various times and temperatures and then cooled, and this is the molding step. The effects of compounding and molding are studied using uniaxial tensile testing. In this manner, the optimal processing variables can be determined for a possible commercial system of natural organic fibers and commodity polymers. Processing variables are important when using organic fibers to minimize degradation and subsequent loss of properties.