RED DEER — The sticky problem of finding a use for old laying hens may have a practical solution.
A researcher at the University of Alberta said spent hens, which are seen as waste in the industry, can be used to produce glue.
The project has been running about 18 months and will continue as scientists look for new ways to develop glue for the woodworking industry, said Chanchan Wang during a break at the Alberta poultry conference in Red Deer Feb. 28.
“We just focused on wood glue because there is a big market,” she said in an interview.
“We have solid based protein adhesives in the industry now, but it is no more than 10 percent of natural glues. We are trying to find some other sources,” she said.
Concerns over emissions of formaldyhyde have forced the industry to look for alternatives to petroleum derived glues. The experiments worked to find an effective bonding agent for veneer and particle board.
The protein from the chicken meat from laying hens was extracted and when mixed with water produced about a litre of glue per hen. The final product was a milky coloured solution.
Another researcher is working on turning feathers into plastic, but both these projects are a long way off from commercial production, she said.
Protein based adhesives are not uncommon and have been used for thousands of years as a woodworking glue.