Published in Applied Research
Valorization of keratin from food wastes

Researchers from the University of Nebraska (Usa) have developed oligosaccharide derivatives to crosslink keratin materials from poultry feathers, swine bristles and ox hairs to valorize these major wastes from meat industry. The results were published in Food Chemistry 300, 125181, 2019.

Global butchery generates more than 8,600,000 tons of keratinous wastes annually. Keratin was considered a promising resource for developing bio-based products as alternatives to petroleum products. Regenerated keratin products, such as films, usually showed insufficient mechanical properties, and required external crosslinking. However, most crosslinkers for proteins are either toxic, expensive, or with low efficiencies under mild conditions. In this research, regenerated keratin films were crosslinked by oxidized sucrose, a safe and potent bio-polyaldehyde. The crosslinker with verified low toxicity improved both tensile strength and elongation of keratin films, surpassing many other safe crosslinkers. Mechanism of the crosslinking reaction was proposed as forming Schiff bases and aminals and verified via 1H NMR and 13C NMR. Relationship between tensile properties and crosslinking degree of keratin films was also quantified. 

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