Keratinous Materials as Novel Absorbent Systems for Toxic Pollutants

Arun Ghosh, Stewart R. Collie


A range of hazardous organic and inorganic compounds, and metal ions generated by human and industrialactivities leads to serious concerns for environments. Adsorption technologies based on polymeric materials are beingused to remove toxic substances from air and wastewater streams. Keratin protein, found abundantly in sheep’s wool,human hair and bird feathers, is an interesting and potentially useful renewable biopolymer. It contains a variety offunctional groups on the backbone and side chains of the proteins, and is an ideal component to fabricate a rangeof novel adsorbent systems for separation of toxic pollutants via physisorption or chemisorption mechanisms. Inthis review article, the key activities on keratin research and development with respect to the novel properties ofkeratin proteins and their utilization as absorbents or filtration systems are summarized. It is apparent that keratinsin the form of loose fibers, non-woven fabrics, short fibers or particles, membranes and colloids can be used as absorbents for air filtration and wastewater treatment. Keratin materials have potential to be applied in biological and chemical defence applications, and also in protection against radioactive elements.

Defence Science Journal, Vol. 64, No. 3, May 2014, pp. 209-221, DOI:


Keratin; Absorbent; Filtration; Pollutant; Environment

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Defence Science Journal (DSJ)