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ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #202947

Title: Chicken Feather Fiber as an Additive in MDF Composites

item Schmidt, Walter

Submitted to: Journal of Natural Fibers
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/26/2006
Publication Date: 1/5/2007
Citation: Winandy, J.E., Muehl, J.H., Micales, J.A., Schmidt, W.F. 2007. Chicken Feather Fiber as an Additive in MDF Composites. Journal of Natural Fibers. 4:35-48.

Interpretive Summary: Medium density fiberboard is used to make "disposable", furniture-like desks and bookshelves. They are composed of sawdust wood pulp and held together with resins. The same formula was used stepwise replacing 5% to 95% of sawdust with ground chicken feather fiber to see if the physical and mechanical properties of the fiberboard were improved. The strength and stiffness of the composite decreased by adding chicken feather fiber. When wet, however, the fiberboard becomes heavier, weaker, and more prone to fungal decay. In moist environments, e.g., wet basements, fiberboard can be the source of household mold. Some are severely allergic to house mold. The addition of chicken feather fiber to the fiberboard composite made it more difficult for the fiberboard to soak up water and also provided limited protection against decay mold. In layered fiberboard, outer layers could provide water absorption and mold resistance and the inner layers made with only wood pulp could provide the desired stiffness and strength.

Technical Abstract: Medium density fiberboard (MDF) panels were made with aspen fiber and 0% to 95% chicken feather fiber (CFF) in 2.5%, 5% or 25% increments, using 5% phenol formaldehyde resin as the adhesive. Panels were tested for mechanical and physical properties as well as decay. The addition of CFF decreased the strength and stiffness of MDF-DFF composites compared to that of all-wood control panels. However, MDF-CFF panels showed a marked improvement in resistance to water soak adsorption, which provided a limited protection against decay fungi. This benefit is probably related to the hydrophobic keratin in the CFF. Further research is focused on the thresholds of CFF required to decrease the thickness, swelling and increase water resistance.