Referred to as the urban chicken craze, the recent upsurge in popularity of keeping chickens has invaded many cities. Fresh eggs, natural insect control around the yard and the urge to bring a bit of the farm to the city are all reasons to own chickens.
However, scientist Yiqi Yang has found another way in which chickens are naturally useful, and it involves their feathers.
Turns out, Yang has actually developed a way to make yarn from a combination of chicken feathers and rice straw, which are normally discarded leftovers from the farming trade. He came up with this textile technology years ago, and it may someday be coming to a shopping venue or utilized by an exclusive designer with an eye for eliminating waste.
With a specific focus on using up excess substances, it employs the two naturally occurring agricultural byproducts.
The process involves removing the fibers from the high cellulose content rice straw, which are the unneeded stems from the plant that are not harvested. The rice straw can be turned into a fabric that feels like a linen material. Yang pointed out that since rice is a huge global crop (around 500 million tons of it are expected be produced worldwide in 2013) it offers a steady supply of otherwise wasted straw.
The chicken feathers flutter in the mix since they are mainly made up of keratin, tough fiber filled proteins. They resemble the structure of wool and can form a light yet insulating material, as the research team found when looking at the way the fibers are constructed.
Yang stated that many of the fibers in the textile business are prepared from petroleum and are used to make synthetic fabrics. He also pointed out that current manufacturing capabilities could be used, and it is a cost effective means in both the collection and fabrication processes. Also mentioned was that this uniquely made product could be used in other areas, like for carpets.
Incorporating what normally is just thrown out into new, usable materials is a great idea in itself. However when paired with such easily obtained, large agricultural waste products as these, it may be close to farm inspired genius.
Though fine feathered garments have not been reproduced on a wide scale basis, this research provides some interesting facets to the textile, design and agricultural industries.
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