Insulating a building with chicken feathers

A student-led startup called Aeropowder leads the charge in sustainable insulation made of chicken feathers.

Aeropowder is an environmentally friendly insulation material made using old chicken feathers. In the age of bio-design, it’s important to rethink the way we use waste. In particular, the poultry industry generates a large amount of feather waste that would otherwise go unused. Students at the Royal College of Art in the United Kingdom (UK) have discovered an interesting way to use this waste by-product.

Composed of microscopic keratin (a chemically resistant and physically strong protein), feathers are one of the lightest natural fibres in nature and great thermal insulators. According to Elena Dieckmann and Ryan Robinson, the co-founders of Aeropowder, it was the feather’s thermal qualities that inspired the design.

“Our process allows us to captures these useful properties of feathers into a powdered form, making them easier to manipulate and work into functional products,” write the duo. “Therefore we can create Aeropoder, by incorporating processed feathers with a binder to create a lightweight insulation material. We will create solid insulation boards that can be installed onto external walls.”