The Loh Down On Science

Feathers Your Nest

The latest in feathering the nest: homes built from chicken. Feathers, that is.

Which came first: the chicken or the living room?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

and on the latest in feathering the nest. Homes built from chicken!

Chicken feathers, that is.

The residents of the Philippines REALLY love chicken. But here's the problem. The island nation lacks landfill space for all the feathers-- three million TONS each year.

Enter Forestry Professor Menandro Acda, of the University of the Philippines in Los Banos.

Acda realized that what makes feathers BAD for landfills--their VERY slow decomposition rate --makes them GOOD for construction in the tropics. In tropical climates, termites and other bugs quickly destroy wooden buildings.

But feathers decompose slowly because they're made of keratin--a super tough protein that's conveniently inedible to termites.

So the plucky Acda mixed feathers with compressed cement, and shaped the material into boards. He's now testing it as an inexpensive, environmentally friendly substitute for lumber!

The materials are non-combustible, and -- depending on the menu--widely available.

Perhaps soon even in America, termites will be biting into our homes and saying: "Ew--tastes like chicken!" Or not.


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