Chicken Feather Fibers for Hydrogen Storage

EPA Grant Number: SU834324
Title: Chicken Feather Fibers for Hydrogen Storage
Investigators: Wool, R. P. , Campanella, Alejandrina , Senoz, Erman , Zhan, Mingjiang
Current Investigators: Wool, R. P. , Campanella, Alejandrina , Danner, Kate , Senoz, Erman , Stanzione III, Joseph F , Watson, Cara , Zhan, Mingjiang
Institution: University of Delaware
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2009 through August 14, 2010
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2009) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , Sustainability , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , P3 Challenge Area - Ecosystems


The DOE’s 2010 and 2015 hydrogen storage targets are quite challenging in terms of gravimetric capacity (6 wt% and 9 wt% respectively), volumetric capacity (45 and 81 grams H2 per L) and storage cost ($4 and $2 per kWh respectively). In order to solve the H2 storage problem in fuel cell automobiles, various kinds of nano-structured materials have been investigated and produced, none of which could fulfill these targets entirely. Their disposal methods and degradability are still a big question mark. Additionally, the prices of these materials are extremely expensive. It is crucial that the material that will serve as a H2 adsorbent in fuel cell vehicles is cheap and is environmentally sound. The goal of this project is to develop new low cost H2 storage substrates from a waste material—chicken feathers.


Every year U.S. companies spend money to dispose of 6 billion lbs of chicken feathers by burning, burying or using them as recycled animal feed. In this project instead of using highly ordered nano-structural materials, we will simply try to use chicken feather fibers as a precursor material and try to obtain high surface area carbon-nitrogen based fiber by controlled pyrolysis. When keratin based chicken feathers are heat treated by controlled pyrolysis, hollow carbon microtubes are formed with nanoporous walls. Their surface area increases substantially by the formation of fractals and micropores thus enabling more hydrogen adsorption than untreated feather fibers.

Expected Results:

We are going to investigate the details of the pyrolysis of feather fibers and optimize the process parameters to increase the number of pores suitable for hydrogen adsorption. At the end of the project the storage tank will be capable of storing H2 reversibly and more energy efficient than today’s state of the art H2 tanks. The maximum cost of the storage system is expected to be between $200 and $400. The knowledge from the project will be exposed to the researchers by Green Chemistry and Engineering Meetings and to students by courses such as Green Engineering and Bio-Based Materials at the University of Delaware.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

sustainability, carbonization, physisorption, renewable feedstock, biopolymers, recycled materials, microporous materials, green engineering, natural polymers,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report