Researchers from the University of Delaware believe that carbonized chicken feathers could be used as a replacement for expensive carbon nanotubes in storing hydrogen. Using cheap materials, such as chicken feathers, in place of traditional expensive equipment could significantly reduce the cost of major items such as vehicles powered by hydrogen.
Meanwhile, some teenagers from Bosnia and Herzegovina have been conducting experiments of their own. Anela Arifi and Ilda Ismaili have many chickens in their area. The teenagers managed to construct a reactor that outputs both biodiesel and carbonized chicken feathers.
Their reactor was so successful that they managed to reach the finals of the Google Science Fair, which was held last week in Mountain View, CA.
The reactor starts with ordinary chicken feathers. It then uses heat and extracted chicken fat in combination with methanol and sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, to produce biodiesel. The biodiesel is purified using wood chips. Additionally, the chicken feathers are carbonized in the process. Glycerol is also produced.
By using their reactor, the teenagers have managed to come up with a cheap and efficient way of producing biodiesel. The carbonized chicken feathers are also useful because of their potential for storing hydrogen.
Biodiesel is a variation of diesel fuel that is manufactured from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled greases. The fuel is safe, biodegradable, and it creates less air pollution than diesel derived from petroleum. Biodiesel is used throughout the world to power certain vehicles. Cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes have all utilized biodiesel as a fuel source. Biodiesel has also been used as way to heat buildings and to generate electricity.
Finding a method to easily store carbon has been a longstanding challenge for scientists. Most current methods are expensive or take a large amount of effort. While the utilization of carbonized chicken feathers isn’t likely to change hydrogen storage methods overnight, it should give researchers some more ideas to work with.