Analyzing the Effect of Mechanical Properties on Chicken Feather Reinforced Polypropylene Composites

Last Updated on 23/12/2020

Analyzing the Effect of Mechanical Properties on Chicken Feather Reinforced Polypropylene Composites

Dhanalakshmi. S,
Assistant Professor,
Department of Fashion Technology,
Rajas International Institute of Technology for Women, Nagercoil.


Composite materials are light weight, high strength to weight ratio and stiffness properties and these properties of composites used to replace the conventional materials like metals, woods, etc. Presently, feathers might be considered as waste because their current uses are economically marginal and their disposal is difficult. In this study chicken feathers were used to produce composites boards. The waste chicken feathers were collected from poultry units and are cleaned with a polar solvent like ethanol and dried. These chicken feather in pre-determined weight proportion are processed to make random orientation and made into composites using polypropylene as a matrix by compression moulding technique. The composite boards were subjected to tensile test, flexural test, and the fractured surfaces were observed under SEM as declared.

Keywords: chicken feather, polypropylene, compression moulding.

Chicken feathers are waste products of the poultry industry. Billions of kilograms of waste feathers are generated each year by poultry processing plants, creating a serious solid waste problem. Traditional disposal strategies of chicken feather are expensive and difficult. They are often burned in incineration plants, buried landfills, or recycled into low quality animal feeds. However, these disposal methods are restricted or generate green house gases that pose danger to the environment. A chicken has about 5% to 7% of its body weight in feathers so chicken feathers are an important by-product in the poultry industry. Over four billion pounds of chicken feather “waste” is generated in every year.

Materials derived from Chicken feather can be used advantageously as the reinforcing materials in polymer matrix composites. Such applications can potentially consume the huge quantity of feathers produced annually as a by-product of various poultry units worldwide. The composites reinforcement application of the chicken feather fibres offers much more effective way to solve environmental concerns compared to the traditional disposal methods. Some of the advantages of the chicken feather fibers are inexpensive, renewable, and abundantly available. The chicken feather fibre as a composite reinforcement having certain desirable properties including lightweight, high thermal insulation, excellent acoustic properties, non-abrasive behaviour and excellent hydrophobic properties. The objective of the project work is to produce composite board using chicken feather fiber reinforced composite which combines the advantages of natural fiber reinforcement and good thermal resistance of chicken feather fiber.


2.1 Chicken feather
Chicken feather is approximately 91% keratin, 8% water and 1% lipids by mass [5]. Keratin is a protein with 95 amino acids and has a molecular weight of 10.168 kD[3]. Chicken feather fibres are found to possess high toughness, good thermal insulation and acoustic properties, non abrasive behavior, more hydrophilic and less hydrophobic in nature. In this project work CF was collected from chicken poultry farm.

2.2 Polypropylene
Polypropylene is a polymer which combines versatility with a low price. Polypropylene is commonly made from the monomer propylene by a Ziegler-Natta polymerization, the result is an iso tactic polymer, in which all the methyl groups are on the same side of the chain.

Homo-polymer polypropylene is translucent, Colorless transparent, smooth and glossy with hard surface, strong, highly resistant to temperature changes and with electrical insulation properties. Water – resistant, water repellant and physiologically harmless.

A major advantage is Polypropylene is having higher temperature resistance; this makes PP particularly suitable for items such as trays, funnels, pails, bottles, carboys and instrument jars that have to be sterilized frequently for use in a clinical environment. Polypropylene is a translucent material with excellent mechanical properties and it has gradually replaced the polyethylene for many purposes. Raw polypropylene is purchased from zenith fibres Baroda.

2.3 Methods
The untreated CF was washed with the 5% soap solution followed by rinsing. The wet washed CF was dried on moderate heat. Samples of washed CF were dipped at room temperature (21°C) for 30 minutes respectively. Polar solvent and water, with pH adjusted to 8, then rinsed with water, then soaping process is carried out and air-dried.

By passing the polypropylene into miniature carding machine, the web is produced

Webs produced using the miniature carding machine
Fig1: Webs produced using the miniature carding machine

3.1 Manufacture of chicken feather reinforced composite
Fibrous webs are cut into pieces (250mm X 250mm with thickness 3mm) according to the aluminum mould and placed on the mould. Feathers are cut and laid over the web layers to get the required weight/unit area (1500 GSM) and compression moulded at optimized parameter. Several of such fiber webs with randomly laid feathers were compression molded to produce composite board.

Compression Moulding Machine
Fig2: Compression Moulding Machine

The term CFP indicates the combination of chicken feather and polypropylene. The samples are defined as CFP1, CFP2, CFP3, CFP4, CFP5,CFP6.

Table: 1. Process Parameters for composite manufacturing

CFP190/103 MIN165 ̊ C5 BAR
CFP280/203 MIN165 ̊ C5 BAR
CFP370/303 MIN165 ̊ C5 BAR
CFP490/109 MIN175 ̊ C15 BAR
CFP580/209 MIN175 ̊ C15 BAR
CFP670/309 MIN175 ̊ C15 BAR
Chicken feather composite board
Fig3: Chicken feather composite board


The composites were conditioned in a standard testing atmosphere of 21°C and 65% relative humidity for at least 25 hours before testing. Fix the Sample in between two jaws and bottom jaw is movable one. After the sample is fixed the bottom jaw is moving at the principle of constant rate of loading (CRL). The tensile tester shows the data in Breaking Load in Newton and Elongation at Break.

Sample Size
The sample size for testing the tensile strength is following,

  • Length – 150 mm
  • Width – 19

4.2 Flexural Test (ASTM standard D790-03)
The specimen is placed on the clamps and load will be applied on the specimen. The load will be applied until the sample breaks under bending. The flexural strength testing machine shows the data in maximum load expressed in kg/cm².

Sample Size
The required sample size for performing flexural strength using universal testing machine is as follows:

  • Length – 127 mm
  • Width – 12 mm.


5.1 Tensile Strength of Composite
The composites are subjected to tensile test to determine the tensile strength. Table 2 shows the Results of tensile strength properties of chicken feather composites.

Table 2: Results for Tensile Strength of chicken feather Composite

Result for tensile strength of composite
Fig 4: Result for tensile strength of composite

It was observed that combination 70/30 resin/reinforcement shows better results for tensile strength. When the percentage of polypropylene increases, tensile strength reduced. The proportion between polypropylene and chicken feather should be matched. The higher the proportion of Chicken feather increases the tensile strength of composite board. So in order to increase the strength, proportion of Chicken feather should be increased.

5.2 SEM tensile fraction analysis of chicken feather composite board

SEM image of fracture surface of tensile strength of composite board
Fig5. SEM image of fracture surface of tensile strength of composite board

The surfaces of the composite specimens are examined directly by scanning electron microscope. The image shows there is a good adhesion between chicken feather and matrix. Some voids are clearly found from this image and it can be avoided by adding chicken feather in to the matrix.

5.3 Flexural Strength of Composite
The composites were subjected to a Universal flexural strength tester to determine its flexural strength. Results of the study of flexural properties of chicken feather composite follows,

Table 3: Results for flexural Strength of chicken feather Composite


In the present investigation it was observed that combination of 70/30 (resin/ reinforcement) shows highest flexural strength. When % of polypropylene increases flexural strength may be reduced.

5.4 SEM Flexural analysis of chicken feather composite board

SEM Image of Fracture surface of flexural strength of composite board
Fig 7: SEM Image of Fracture surface of flexural strength of composite board

Flexural Failure:
From the SEM image analysis of flexural strength failure, it is understood that

  • There is no feather pull out.
  • It shows that cohesion force between feather and polypropylene is good.

Chicken feather are lighter than many of the other natural and manmade fibers result in lighter composites material. Morphological characteristics indicate that the feathers have the suitable conditions to act as reinforcement. The tensile and flexural property of the chicken feather reinforced composites was determined. It was found that 70/30 proportion increases the strength of composite board. Thus the utilization of the cheaper goods and applying it in a high performance application is possible with the help of this composite technology.


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