Skip to main content

Industrial Feather Waste Valorisation for Sustainable KeRatin based MAterials.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - KARMA2020 (Industrial Feather Waste Valorisation for Sustainable KeRatin based MAterials.)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2019-12-31

Poultry industry generates huge amounts of waste each year. Worldwide 24 billion chickens are consumed annually and around 8.5 billion tons of poultry feather are produced. According to European Commission, 13.1 million tons of poultry meat was produced only in the European Union (EU-28) in 2014, with an estimated generation of 3.1 million tons feather waste. Despite their high availability, in Europe there is still a very limited use of feathers as raw material in industrial applications. As a consequence, at present the majority of the poultry feathers are disposed in landfills, incinerated, or a minor part converted into low nutritional value animal food. The disposal of feathers in landfill sites or incinerators is set to become increasingly problematic in the future. Therefore, the development of alternative industrial conversion methods and exploitation strategies for poultry feathers will not only increase the value of feathers as raw material but also reduce environment impact and health hazards associated to landfill in line with the Landfill of waste directives (Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 and Directive 2000/76/EC).
In this context, the aim of KaRMA2020 Project is the industrial manufacture and exploitation of sustainable raw materials from feather waste to develop innovative green products for high impact cross-sectorial markets.
To reach this main objective the following steps are targeted:
• Improving feather waste pre-treatment and conditioning processes
• Optimizing the isolation of keratin and other feather-based raw materials
• Validation of the feather-based raw materials for bio-based end-products
The use of efficient conversion technologies for feathers processing, together with the development of keratin based products for high impact sectors such as: fertilisers, biodegradable food packaging, technical coatings for textiles, and thermoset bio-based composites will enable large-scale manufacturing of feather based raw materials, allowing their marketing at a competitive cost.
During the KaRMA2020 project, the feather waste stream generated at the poultry slaughterhouse has been valorized using different technologies adapted to the final applications. The consortium has solved some of the key issues associated to the handling and treatment of feathers to be used as a valuable raw material. Some of the major achievements made are the creation of a range of raw materials derived from feathers, such as: keratin hydrolysate, bioplastics, flame retardants, thermoset resins and non-woven fabrics. As part of the project, humins, a by-product of sugars dehydration process, has also been incorporated into the value chain.
The initial lab-scale experiments have been substituted by pilot and industrial demonstrations, end-products validation and feasibility studies to ensure the roll out of the innovative technologies. The potential of conversion technologies for feathers treatment have been evaluated in terms of feasibility, scalability and cost competitiveness. This assessment allowed the selection of the most suitable technologies for the industrial manufacturing of feather based raw materials. The upscaling of the different conversion technologies has been accomplished combining simulation software tools with pilot trials to produce feather-based raw materials by technologies such as: steam explosion, melt extrusion, spun-bonded and chemical conversion.
As a result, five different feather-based products have been manufactured and validated according to the same standards than their petroleum-based counterparts: food packaging trays, fertilisers (including control release fertilisers, CRFs), Flame retardants (FR) for PU coated textiles, FR paints and thermoset composites. In terms of performance, most of them fulfilled more than the 90% of the requirements of the application and, in some cases, the new product performed even better.
KaRMA2020 end-products could replace, in some applications, fossil-derived materials. Depending on the end-product, the reduction in the use of fossil sources range from 30 to 100%. These KaRMA2020 products could guarantee in the future their bio-based content through the corresponding certification “OK BIO-BASED”.
Besides these new developments, the environmental impact of the technologies, processes and materials of the project have been evaluated to ensure their lower carbon footprint. Together with this assessment, KaRMA2020 has developed an integrated waste management strategy which covers the waste generation along the whole value chain of the project and the potential valorisation routes.
Visual identity and communication materials (brochure, leaflet, website…) were created as part of the communication strategy and 10 publications related to KaRMA2020 results have been disseminated. On the other hand, as part of the business plan, a deep market analysis accomplished in the project and the most suitable exploitation routes for KaRMA2020 innovations were proposed.
Finally, in recognition of the innovations of the project, KaRMA2020 received several awards such as the SPIRE “2017-EU Process Industry Conference” as the more inSPIRE-ing project”, and it also won the Gold Medal with a Special Jury Mention and Special award from the Joint Stock Company Design & Research Institute for Information Technology, Signaling and Telecommunication on Railway Transport JSC NIIAS, Russia for the invention “Hydrophobic feathers based nonwovens obtained by spun-bonded technique” and Gold Medal of the INNOVA Fair 2019.
Within the KaRMA2020 project, the consortium has developed specific technologies for feathers conversion into new raw materials. The conversion of feathers has been accomplished through either: i) innovative and sustainable approaches (already patented by some of KaRMA2020 partners) and ii) conventional and cost competitive technologies.
Most of these technologies have proven to be efficient at lab scale. Their potential for being up scaled has been evaluated and the most suitable technologies for the pilot scale processes have been selected.
Due to the innovation potential of KaRMA2020, the project has shown the following relevant impacts:
• Technical impact, by the optimization of feather processing methods from lab to industrial scale. Two patents have been applied during the project, one related to the conversion of feathers for bioplastics and another one related to the use of keratin in FR.
• Industrial impact, by the manufacturing of bio-based raw materials and the production and validation of end-products.
• Environmental impact, by evaluating the environmental effect of new developments and the elaboration of a suitable waste management strategy.
• Economic impact, by the promotion of innovative applications and products with higher value from the current waste and creating new business opportunities for industrial partners.
• Social impact, by increasing the impact in the market, both at the end users as well as at the manufacturer’s level, facilitating the introduction of environmentally friendly, non-oil dependent raw materials. In addition, new business opportunities have been created for the involved industrial partners.
Spun bonded non-woven made of PLA and chicken feathers
Chicken based non woven
Composites made with PP (left) and PLA (right) and chicken feathers non woven textiles
Wind turbine made with KaRMA2020 materials
Bioplastic compound obtained by injection moulding
Regenerated keratin from Deep Eutectic Solvent (DES) process
Bioplastic with feathers
FR paints
KaRMA2020 pilot and industrial facilities
FR-PU coated textile
Feather based trays
Film obtained from regenerated keratin of DES process
Chicken packed in KaRMA2020 trays