Biological treatment of chicken feather waste for improved biogas production

G Forgacs, Saeid Alinezhad, Amir Mirabdollah, Elisabeth Feuk-Legarstedt, Ilona Sárvári Horváth

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A two-stage system was developed which combines the biological degradation of keratin-rich waste with the production of biogas. Chicken feather waste was treated biologically with a recombinant Bacillus megaterium strain showing keratinase activity prior to biogas production. Chopped, autoclaved chicken feathers (4%, W/V) were completely degraded, resulting in a yellowish fermentation broth with a level of 0.51 mg/mL soluble proteins after 8 days of cultivation of the recombinant strain. During the subsequent
anaerobic batch digestion experiments, methane production of 0.35 Nm3/kg dry feathers (i.e., 0.4 Nm3/kg volatile solids of feathers), corresponding to 80% of the theoretical value on proteins, was achieved from the feather hydrolyzates, independently of the prehydrolysis time period of 1, 2 or 8 days. Cultivation with a native keratinase producing strain, Bacillus licheniformis resulted in only 0.25 mg/mL soluble proteins in the feather hydrolyzate, which then was digested achieving a maximum accumulated methane production of 0.31 Nm3/kg dry feathers. Feather hydrolyzates treated with the wild type B. megaterium produced 0.21 Nm3 CH4/kg dry feathers as maximum yield.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1747-1753
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • anaerobic digestion; feather waste; keratinase; Bacillus licheniformis; Bacillus megaterium; gene expression


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