Scientists in Nevada have found a new and environmentally friendly source of biodiesel – “chicken feather meal”, a delightful material that consists of chicken feathers, blood, and innards made from the 11 billion pounds of poultry industry waste that accumulates annually in the US alone.

Currently feather meal is used as animal feed and fertilizer because of its high protein content. But with as much as 12 percent fat content, feather meal has the potential as an alternative, nonfood feedstock for the production of biofuel. The process developed by the researchers involves using boiling water to extract fat from chicken feather meal and processing it into biodiesel.

The research team estimates their process could create 152 million gallons of biodiesel annually in the US and 593 gallons worldwide and as an added bonus the removal of fat content from the feather meal results in both a higher-grade animal feed and a better nitrogen source for fertilizer applications.

The team’s research will be published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.