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Biomacromolecules. 2011 Oct 10;12(10):3826-32. doi: 10.1021/bm201112n. Epub 2011 Sep 8.

Bioplastics from feather quill.

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  • 1Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2P5.


Poultry feather quills have been extruded in a twin screw extruder with sodium sulfite treatment as a reducing agent. The effect of four different plasticizers (ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, glycerol, and diethyl tartrate) on the thermoplastic properties was then investigated. Conformational changes and plasticizer-protein interactions in the extruded resins were assessed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), while viscoelastic behavior of the quill keratin plasticized with different plasticizers was investigated by dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA). Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) was used to determine the effect of different plasticizers on protein denaturation. Thermal degradation patterns of the extrudates were studied by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). The effect of plasticizers on the mechanical properties of resins was also assessed by tensile strength measurements. Results indicated that ethylene glycol was able to interact more effectively with quill keratin at the molecular level, exhibiting only one sharp glass transition, better mechanical properties, and higher transparency compared to other plasticized resins. The two phases found in glycerol plasticized material were attributed to glycerol-rich and protein-rich zones. Propylene glycol and diethyl tartrate exhibited lower H-bonding interactions and showed wide transition regions in DMA profiles during heating, suggesting weak and heterogeneous interactions between quill keratin and these plasticizers.

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