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Advances in Materials Science and Engineering
Volume 2015, Article ID 907567, 10 pages
Research Article

Effect of Keratin Structures from Chicken Feathers on Expansive Soil Remediation

1Posgrado en Ciencias Ambientales, Facultad de Química, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, Paseo Colón Esquina Paseo Tollocan, 50120 Toluca, MEX, Mexico
2Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, Centro Universitario, Cerro de las Campanas, 76160 Querétaro, QRO, Mexico
3Centro de Física Aplicada y Tecnología Avanzada, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Apartado Postal 1-1010, 76000 Querétaro, QRO, Mexico
4División de Estudios de Posgrado e Investigación, Instituto Tecnológico de Querétaro, Avenida Tecnológico s/n Esquina Gral. Mariano Escobedo, Colonia Centro Histórico, 76000 Querétaro, QRO, Mexico

Received 20 May 2015; Accepted 5 August 2015

Academic Editor: Michele Iafisco

Copyright © 2015 Elda Montes-Zarazúa et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Chicken feathers are composed mainly of avian keratin, a fibrillar protein with a complex structure, and important properties such as durability, hydrophobicity, being chemically unreactive, and depending on the specific function can change its morphological and inner structure. This study takes advantage of these features and for the first time the use of keratin from chicken feathers to modify characteristics on expansive soils is reported. Swelling characteristics of remolded expansive soil specimens were studied through varying the percentage of keratin fiber content using 0.25, 0.50, 1.00 and 3.00 wt%. One-dimensional swell-consolidation tests were conducted on oedometric specimens, specific surface area was determined using methylene blue, and degree of saturation was also analyzed. Finally random distribution and interaction between keratin structures and soil were studied by scanning electron microscopy. The results show that randomly distributed fibers are useful in restraining the swelling tendency of expansive soils. The maximum reduction of pressure (43.99%) due to swelling is achieved by reducing the void ratio, which can be reached with the addition of chicken feather keratin structures to the expansive soil. Finally, the mechanism by which discrete and randomly distributed fibers reduce swelling pressure of expansive soil is explained.