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鸡毛砖:潜在的建筑物隔热材料

更新时间:2017-10-29 12:49:09 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

How chicken feathers could warm our homes
鸡毛砖:潜在的建筑物隔热材料

Where there are people, there are chickens. Pretty much every country on Earth has poultry or their eggs on the menu.

哪里有人,哪里就有鸡。世界上差不多每个国家的菜单都有鸡肉或是鸡蛋。

So, from Norway to New Zealand, and Cuba to Cambodia, chickens root around even the most isolated settlements, and fill giant farms in their thousands.

从挪威到新西兰,从古巴到柬埔寨,甚至在最为与世隔绝的定居点,都能发现鸡的身影;巨大的农场被成千上万只鸡塞得满满当当。

One result of a huge chicken population is a huge amount of chicken feathers, which are normally burned or taken to landfill, polluting the environment.

庞大的鸡群带来的后果之一就是巨量的鸡毛,这些鸡毛通常是被烧掉或是丢进垃圾填埋场,从而造成环境污染。

Ryan Robinson, a biology graduate from Imperial College London, is one of a duo that believes it might have come up with a different solution for this feathery waste.

瑞安·罗宾逊(Ryan Robinson),一位伦敦帝国理工学院(Imperial College London)生物学专业毕业生,相信这些羽毛废物另有解决之道。

Along with designer Elena Dieckmann, Robinson has discovered a way to turn feathers into an insulating material for buildings or a packing material for food or medicine.

他与设计师埃莱娜·迪克曼(Elena Dieckmann)一起,研究将羽毛变为建筑隔热材料或者食品和药品包装材料的方法。

The pair has formed a start-up, called Aeropowder, to try and turn their invention into a commercial product.

他们两人成立了一家名为空气粉末(Aeropowder)的新创企业,并尝试将他们的发明转化为商业化的产品。

“Aeropowder started as Elena's research project at university, where she was looking at new uses for waste in society,” says Robinson. “She started looking at hair as a source of keratin, but by far the greatest amount of waste keratin is found in waste feathers.

"空气粉末源于埃莱娜大学期间所做的一项研究,她曾研究社会废弃物的新用途,"罗宾逊说,"她开始研究的是将头发作为角蛋白的来源,但是到现在为止,在废弃的羽毛中所发现的角蛋白含量最为丰富。"

“In the UK alone we dispose of 1,000 tonnes of feathers a week.”

"仅在英国,每周都会处理掉1000吨的羽毛。"

That’s only the tip of the iceberg – Robinson believes that across the world, 10,000 tonnes of waste feathers are produced every day.

这还只是冰山一角——罗宾逊估计全世界每天都会产生10万吨废弃的羽毛。

BBC Designed visited Dieckmann and Robinson in their work space at Imperial College, where the pair works amid bales of chicken feathers collected from British farms and food processors.

英国广播公司设计栏目(BBC Designed)参观了迪克曼和罗宾逊在帝国理工学院的工作室,两人就在成包来自英国各地农场和食品加工厂的羽毛之间工作。

“Currently feathers are mainly converted in this country to a low-grade animal feed called feathermeal,” says Robinson. During the lab visit, he picked up a handful of the pungent meal from a bucket to sniff. The powder smells like a cross between hops, blue cheese and sweaty feet – not exactly appetising.

"目前在英国,羽毛主要被做成称为羽毛粉的低等级动物饲料。"罗宾逊说。在实验室参观期间,他从桶里抓起一把刺鼻的饲料闻了闻。这种粉末闻起来像是把啤酒花、蓝纹芝士和汗脚全部掺在一起——谈不上口味诱人。

This seems to be about the only product that uses feathers after they have been plucked. “Feathers can also be incinerated or put into a landfill. And these disposal methods do not make use of their amazing natural properties.”

这似乎是唯一一种利用被拔除的羽毛的产品。"羽毛也可以被烧掉或者丢入垃圾填埋场。但是这种处理方法没能利用它们惊人的自然属性。"

It turns out that feathers are quite the wonder material. “Feathers are inherently insulating due to their structure, which is hollow keratin fibres,” says Robinson. Extra air in the fibres means less heat transfer. “What has been surprising is… how well the material has performed, and we hope to continue to make it better and better.”

羽毛被证明是一种非常神奇的材料。"羽毛的结构是中空的角蛋白纤维,这样的结构天然具有隔热性,"罗宾逊说,纤维中多余的空气意味着更少的热量传递。"令人惊讶的是……这种材料的性能那么好,而且我们希望能够让它变得更好。"

Initially, the Aeropowder material – considerably easier on the nose than the animal feed – was ground down to a very fine powder. “As we continued we decided that the properties of the feathers themselves were also extremely useful – not just as an additive but when they were comprising the majority of the material.”

最初,空气粉末物质是研磨而成的非常细的粉末,制作过程比动物饲料更为容易。"当我们继续的时候,我们觉得羽毛本身的特性也非常有用的——不仅仅是作为添加剂,而是让它充当材料的主要成分。"

The current form of Aeropowder’s material looks much more like a compressed brick of feathers. It’s pliant and light and doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out what it’s made from.

空气粉末制造的材料现在的形态更像一块压缩的羽毛砖。它柔软而轻巧,而且对制成它的材质无需太多想象,一眼便知是羽毛。

One question is how fire-resistant the material is – the issues around fire-proof construction materials have been put into focus in the UK since the Grenfell Tower fire in London which killed at least 80 people in June.

一个问题是这种材料的阻燃性能如何——自从六月份格伦费尔塔(Grenfell Tower)大火令至少80人丧生以来,建筑材料防火问题在英国就成为关注焦点。

“The [Grenfell Tower] fire highlighted the need to live in safe environments,” says Robinson. “Feathers inherently do not combust as fiercely as synthetic products, however we are still investigating the best possible options to make this material highly fire resistant, and this product would not be released to the market before this has been independently verified and tested.”

"这场[格伦费尔塔的]大火凸显了生活环境安全性的必要,"罗宾逊说,"羽毛天然不像化学合成品那样会发生爆燃,但是我们仍在研究让这种材料具备高度阻燃性的最佳方法,在完成独立验证和测试之前,本产品不会被投入市场。"

Robinson says he and Dieckmann would try and find materials that were as natural as possible, in keeping with Aeropowder’s sustainable credentials.

罗宾逊说他和迪克曼会尝试并发现尽可能保持自然状态的材料,以符合空气粉末的可持续发展公司特质。

“Building insulation has been a main focus,” says Robinson. “Our materials could be used on exterior walls, in between cavity walls or in the lofts. But we are also interested in insulating smaller consumer items… like food or medicine.”

"建筑保温已经成为主要的焦点,"罗宾逊说,"我们的材料可以用于外墙,夹墙之间或者阁楼。但我们也对更小型消费品的隔热感兴趣,比如食品或药品。"

Aeropowder isn't the first outfit trying to find a further use for this very common waste product. In 2011, researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the US suggested that chicken feathers could be used to help produce a biodegradable plastic. The ubiquity of chickens – on almost every menu, and stocking the freezers and chillers of food stores in every corner of the world – means that there is a potentially worldwide market.

空气粉末并非不是第一家尝试深入利用这一常见废弃物的团队。2011年,来自美国内布拉斯加-林肯大学(University of Nebraska-Lincoln)的研究人员就建议鸡毛可以用于帮助制造一种可生物降解的塑料。鸡的普遍存在——几乎见于每一份菜单,遍布世界各个角落食品店的冰柜和冷库——也意味着潜在的全球市场。

The next challenge will be to find a way for this material to be made close to where the chickens are, rather than sending it far away to a processing plant.

下一个挑战是找到一种方法使这种材料能够在鸡所在的地方就近制造,而不是把它送到远处的加工厂去。

“There is still work to be done to get our material tested and trialled with early adopters,” Robinson says. “But in the long term, we wish to become the world experts in feather-based materials. Our goal will be to enable the local manufacturing of sustainable products wherever there are feathers.”

"在材料测试和让早期使用者试用方面我们还有工作要做,"罗宾逊说,"但从长远来看,我们希望成为世界羽毛材料方面的专家。我们的目标是在有羽毛的地方实现可持续产品的本地制造。"

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