Feather scientists have Christmas all wrapped up

December 22, 2008,

(PhysOrg.com) -- Material scientists at The University of Manchester are causing a festive flap after developing a way of making Christmas wrapping paper – from TURKEY FEATHERS.

A team led by Professor Chris Carr from The School of Materials has broken down and filtered large amounts of bird feathers.

Researchers then used special machinery – unique to The University of Manchester – to turn the feathery pulp into paper.

And to mark the festive season, Prof Carr has joined forces with Dr Nick Clarke from The University’s state-of-the-art Digital Print Centre to create colourful feather-based wrapping paper.

The new innovation from Manchester scientists – piloted using duck, goose and poultry feathers – opens up the possibility that in future years the paper used to wrap a family’s presents could be made from feathers plucked from the turkey they are eating for Christmas lunch.

According to the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), 10 million turkeys are consumed in the UK over the festive period – with around 6 million of them reared in the UK.

And according to DEFRA figures, in 2007 the UK produced 1,264,400 tonnes of chicken*.

The vast majority of feathers plucked from these birds are incinerated or end up in landfill. Each of these methods has implications for the environment.

It is estimated that around 120,000 tonnes of poultry feathers are produced every year in UK alone.

And there is a pressing demand for an alternative processing route for the feathers – especially as companies currently have to pay for unwanted feathers to be taken away.

As well as paper, scientists at the University have been able to make plant pots that are potentially flame retardant and more biodegradable than traditional plastic plant pots.

Researchers believe these feather-based pots may also offer enhanced fertilising properties as a result of the nitrogen supplied by the protein in the feathers.

Using The University of Manchester’s unique paper pilot plant, they have even made prototype EGG BOXES from unwanted feathers.

And in future years vegetable peelings may not go to waste, as researchers have even looked at making paper from these.

Professor Carr said: “Over recent years we have been working closely with industrial partners to characterise feathers, develop suitable cleaning technology and identify potential opportunities for new and novel products.

"Our progress in this field and the production of prototype products would have been impossible without the unique paper production pilot facility we have on campus. We are fortunate to be the only university in the UK to boast such advanced equipment.

“We are very excited and encouraged by our results and the prototypes we have produced, although there is still some way to go before products start to appear on the shelves.

“We see this as a real opportunity to take the large volume of poultry feathers, which are currently being incinerated or dumped into land fill sites, and put them to good use.”

The University of Manchester is currently working with industrial partners to develop the necessary processes and technology to produce commercially viable feather-based products.

Provided by University of Manchester

Explore further: Researchers pioneer water-based, eco-friendly and energy-saving air-conditioner

Related Stories

A warbler's flashy yellow throat? There are genes for that

November 8, 2017

Birds get their bright red, orange and yellow plumage from carotenoid pigments—responsible for many of the same bright colours in plants. But how songbirds turn carotenoids into the spectacular variety of feathered patches ...

Walking beaches, volunteers amass data on dead seabirds

November 8, 2017

Barbara Patton scans the expansive beach on Washington's outer coast looking for telltale signs of dead seabirds: a feather sticking straight up, dark colors in the sand, unusual seaweed clumps that could mask a carcass.

Velociraptor had feathers

September 20, 2007

A new look at some old bones have shown that velociraptor, the dinosaur made famous in the movie Jurassic Park, had feathers. A paper describing the discovery, made by paleontologists at the American Museum of Natural History ...

What makes the feather soar

February 11, 2015

Dinosaurs may have gone extinct some 66 million years ago, but that's hardly the end of their story. One group of their modern-day progeny, the class Avia—namely, birds—is a spectacular evolutionary success story. With ...

Recommended for you

Cryptocurrency rivals snap at Bitcoin's heels

January 14, 2018

Bitcoin may be the most famous cryptocurrency but, despite a dizzying rise, it's not the most lucrative one and far from alone in a universe that counts 1,400 rivals, and counting.

Top takeaways from Consumers Electronics Show

January 13, 2018

The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, which concluded Friday in Las Vegas, drew some 4,000 exhibitors from dozens of countries and more than 170,000 attendees, showcased some of the latest from the technology world.

Finnish firm detects new Intel security flaw

January 12, 2018

A new security flaw has been found in Intel hardware which could enable hackers to access corporate laptops remotely, Finnish cybersecurity specialist F-Secure said on Friday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.