Novel eco-friendly method to extract keratin from hair

Ana C. Cassoni, Ricardo Freixo, Ana I. E. Pintado, Manuela Amorim, Carlos D. Pereira, Ana Raquel Madureira, Manuela M. E. Pintado*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Pig slaughtering for meat production is a major worldwide industry that generates many byproducts that can cause environmental problems. Nonetheless, it is possible to have a management of these residues toward the reuse and valorization of these byproducts. One opportunity focuses on the extraction of value-added compounds such as keratin since pig hair is composed by 80% of this protein. There are some methods for keratin extraction from human hair as other sources such as wool and feathers, but they bring many problems such as pollution, time-consumption, and high costs. This work uses a commercial detergent belonging to the category of degreasers, capable of fast and efficient dissolution of pig hair, followed by a simple filtration to remove residues from skin trimmings with fat and lard. The resulting solution is submitted to an ultrafiltration process to obtain a solution with higher protein content and purity, both at laboratory scale and pilot scale-up. Use of this keratin green extraction method allows to obtain a keratin product with protein purity up to 70% with a yield extraction of about 50%, which although lower than the previous methods allow protein integrity and cleaner technology. This method allows a relevant valorization of pig hair, using for the first time a simple, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12268-12274
Number of pages7
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2018


  • Extraction
  • Keratin
  • Residues
  • Ultrafiltration
  • Valorization


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