Feathers aren’t just for dusters anymore.The latest in green architecture may come from the chicken coop.Filipino scientist Menandro Acda has been developing a new low-cost building material made of cement and chicken feathers.
There’s no shortage of free feathers to use:Six percent of a chicken’s weight is feathers, and the Philippine poultry industry produces 40 million chickens per year.The disposal of feather waste is a huge problem.The keratin protein that makes feathers sturdy (it’s also found in hair and butterfly wings) takes a long time to degrade in landfills.Burning the stuff releases greenhouse gases.So why not use all that fluff to build houses?
The new material – Featherwall?Chickboard? – is lightweight, decay-resistant, and less flammable than conventional cement. It’s not strong enough for weight-bearing walls, but can be used for ceilings, paneling, and insulation. Although Acda is still perfecting his formula, he says 80 percent cement to 20 percent feather looks to be the best mixture.
The feather frenzy has inspired other creations before, including bio-degradable plastics, mulch, fabrics, and even circuit boards that integrate feathers.But Acda’s new material would be the first to recycle large quantities of chicken feathers.