Effect of ultrasound on keratin valorization from chicken feather waste: Process optimization and keratin characterization

Xiaojie Qin, Chuan Yang, Yujie Guo, Jiqian Liu, Johannes H. Bitter, Elinor L. Scott*, Chunhui Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Chicken feather (CF) has been deemed as one of the main poultry byproducts with a large amount produced globally. However, the robust chemical nature of chicken feathers has been limiting in its wide-scale utilization and valorization. The study proposed a strategy of keratin regeneration from chicken feather combining ultrasound and Cysteine (Cys)-reduction for keratin regeneration. First, the ultrasonic effect on feather degradation and keratin properties was systematically explored based on Cys-reduction. Results showed that the feather dissolution was significantly improved by increasing both ultrasonic time and power, and the former had a greater impact on keratin yield. However, the treatment time over 4 h led to a decrease of keratin yield, producing more soluble peptides, > 9.7 % of which were < 0.5 kDa. Meanwhile, prolonging time decreased the thermal stability with weight loss at a lower temperature and amino acids content (e.g., Ser, Pro and Gly) of keratin. Conversely, no remarkable damage in chemical structure and thermal stability of regenerated keratin was observed by only increasing ultrasonic power, while the keratin solubility was notably promoted and reached 745.72 mg·g−1 in NaOH (0.1 M) solution (400 W, 4 h). The regenerated keratin under optimal conditions (130 W, 2.7 h, and 15 % of Cys) possessed better solubility while without obvious damage in chemical structure, thermal stability, and amino acids composition. The study illustrated that ultrasound physically improved CF degradation and keratin solubility without nature damage and provided an alternative for keratin regeneration involving no toxic reagent, probably holding promise in the utilization and valorization of feather waste.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106297
JournalUltrasonics Sonochemistry
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • Feather degradation
  • Keratin regeneration
  • Keratin solubility
  • Ultrasonic treatment


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