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Chicken feathers as FC membrane material

By Niels Hendrik Petersen

February 20, 2024

Image titel: Keratin in chicken feathers is transformed into a sustainable membrane for fuel cells

Sources: ETH Zürich / NTU

Chicken feathers as FC membrane material

Feathers from chickens or other poultry could in the future help make fuel cells more effective and cheaper as a material for membranes. Researchers at ETH Zürich and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have extracted the natural protein keratin from waste feathers, which as a protein building block is an essential component of hair and therefore a natural product. Every year, 40 million metric tons of the waste accrue worldwide, which otherwise is for the most part burned. The researchers process the keratin into extremely fine fibers in order to weave membranes from them. These are then used as electrolytes in the fuel cells.

In conventional fuel cells until now, toxic chemicals have been used for such membranes. They additionally are expensive and not ecologically degradable. The new membrane, on the other hand, is much less expensive. The production in the laboratory, according to ETH Zürich, reduced the cost to one third of the conventional. The chicken feather membrane could also be useful in H2 production by electrolysis, because the membrane is proton permeable and allows the particle migration between anode and cathode necessary for water splitting.

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As a next step, the researchers will now investigate how stable and durable the keratin membrane is. The team has already applied for a patent for the membrane and is now looking for investors or companies that want to further develop the technology and bring it to market.

Author: Niels Hendrik Petersen

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Kategorien: Germany | News
fuel cell | Germany :Schlagworte

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