KERAbond – Specialty chemicals from customized functional keratin proteins

Plastics and specialty chemicals are now ubiquitous and irreplaceable in many areas. Up to now, fossil sources have usually had to be used as starting materials for their synthesis. Henkel AG & Co. KGaA and Fraunhofer IGB are taking a new approach by using keratin, the main component of animal feathers as a biopolymer raw material.

© Fraunhofer IGB


Feathers are still largely untapped as a biobased raw material for industrial use. The largest share of the industrially relevant quantities of feathers produced per year in Europe´s poultry farms is processed into animal feed or disposed of as waste. However, the keratin contained in feathers, a water-insoluble fibrous protein, could serve as a starting point for oligomer fractions.


Objectives and project plan

At the Straubing branch of Fraunhofer IGB, research is being conducted into making feather waste usable for specialty chemicals: A hydrolysis process is first used to obtain shortened polymers – oligomers – to bring the protein chains into solution and crosslink them for later use. Following the development of initial manufacturing protocols in Straubing, large-scale production of the oligomer fractions will take place at the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical‑Biotechnological Processes CBP in Leuna.



KERAbond is intended to open up the important structural protein keratin, which has so far been largely unused in the materials sector, for adhesives and specialty chemicals for surface treatment. This could also serve as an impulse to make other structural proteins usable through tailored downstream chemistry.

Project information

Project title

KERAbond – Specialty chemicals from customized functional keratin proteins

Project duration

April 2019 – December 2022


Project partners

  • Henkel AG & Co. KGaA, Düsseldorf (Coordination)


We would like to thank the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) an the Agency for Renewable Resources (FNR) for funding the project "KERAbond".