Evaluation of Keratin-Cellulose Blend Fibers as Precursors for Carbon Fibers

Hilda Zahra, Julian Selinger, Daisuke Sawada, Yu Ogawa, Hannes Orelma, Yibo Ma, Shogo Kumagai, Toshiaki Yoshioka, Michael Hummel (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


One main challenge to utilize cellulose-based fibers as the precursor for carbon fibers is their inherently low carbon yield. This study aims to evaluate the use of keratin in chicken feathers, a byproduct of the poultry industry generated in large quantities, as a natural charring agent to improve the yield of cellulose-derived carbon fibers. Keratin-cellulose composite fibers are prepared through direct dissolution of the pulp and feather keratin in the ionic liquid 1,5-diazabicyclo[4.3.0]non-5-enium acetate ([DBNH]OAc) and subsequent dry jet wet spinning (so-called Ioncell process). Thermogravimetric analysis reveals that there is an increase in the carbon yield by ∼53 wt % with 30 wt % keratin incorporation. This increase is comparable to the one observed for lignin-cellulose composite fibers, in which lignin acts as a carbon booster due to its higher carbon content. Keratin, however, reduces the mechanical properties of cellulose precursor fibers to a lesser extent than lignin. Keratin introduces nitrogen and induces the formation of pores in the precursor fibers and the resulting carbon fibers. Carbon materials derived from the keratin-cellulose composite fiber show potential for applications where nitrogen doping and pores or voids in the carbon are desirable, for example, for low-cost bio-based carbons for energy harvest or storage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8314-8325
Number of pages12
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • carbon fiber
  • carbon nanostructure
  • cellulose
  • composite fiber
  • keratin
  • pyrolysis
  • synergistic effect


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