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This project aims to use Flyash -Keratin Mixture as Soil Quality Enhancer and also a potential Replacement to Fertilizers.



Fly-ash has great potentiality in agriculture due to its efficacy in modification of soil health and crop performance. The high concentration of elements (K, Na, Zn, Ca, Mg and Fe) in fly-ash increases the yield of many agricultural crops, but problems due to the toxic heavy metals present in the flyash pose a serious threat. Disposal of high amount of fly-ash from thermal power plants absorbs huge amount of water, energy and land area by ash ponds. In order to meet the growing energy demand, various environmental, economic and social problems associated with the disposal of fly-ash would continue to increase. Therefore, fly-ash management would remain a great concern of the century.

Loose keratin fibers have been used to create absorbents for metal ion removal when treated with NaOH and Na2S helps in improving the absorption properties of Keratin. Ethylenediamine can also be applied to provide additional amino groups on the Keratin surface to enhance metal ion absorption via chelation.Keratin is present in large amounts in Feathers of birds, human hair etc, hence we can naturally obtain them, and so we are essentially improving waste management and using biomass which is economic as well as environmentally friendly.

Hence when combining both of these substances, we can overcome the drawback of Flyash and it is also economic and simple. Also, Agricultural lime application contributes to global warming as Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assumes that all the carbon in agricultural lime is finally released as CO2 to the atmosphere. It is expected that use of fly-ash instead of lime in agriculture can reduce net CO2 emission, thus reduce global warming also.


Is this proposal for a practice or a project?


What actions do you propose?

This project is still in the process of Development, Right now it is just an Idea that I have thought about after reading Many articles and Research Papers. I would like to  propose the following actions:

  • To Experiment with Different chemical treatments on Keratin, to enhance its Heavy metal Absorption Capacity.
  • To determine the optimum percentage composition( By weight) of Flyash and Keratin mixture so that maximum efficiency is obtained,we can determine by growing mustard in Keratin-Flyash soil with various weight percent composition and determine the best combination.
  • To go through different methods of Mixing and select the best process so that this mixture acts like a single substance.
  • To test the growth of mustard grown in Four differently prepared soils.
  1. Flyash+Keratin Mix soil
  2. Normal Fertilizer based soil
  3. Flyash Soil
  4. Just soil(Control)
  • To determine the cost of production per Kilogram of product in terms of raw material, equipment, scale of production, and time of production.

  • Runtests on the efficiency of this mixture on different crops before making it available for public use.

  • To create awareness among Farmers about this mixture and harmful effects of Fertilizers. 

  • Helping Farmers and others to use this Mixture.

  • More research into making it cheaper.

Long Term Goals:

  • Research on Nitrogen absorption of Keratin and its efficiency.
  • Improving the moisture absoprtion capacity of this m ixture so that it absorbs moisture directly fro atmosphere and the this soil will then be self sufficient.
  • Making extractionof Keratin from NAural sources like Feathers of  birds and human hair  more easy, quick and cheaper.

Who will take these actions?

The key roles for the success of this project will be in the hands of

1)Farmers  2)Coal manufacturing companies

3) Government 4)Media Companies


First of all, only the farmers should be willing to experiment with this mixture. The farmers can mix the Flyash keratin mixture by themselves in the field or buy it from industries which will cost way lesser than that of normal fertilizers. They should be open to learning about the need for different compositions for different crops etc. Without their co- operation this project cannot be successful.

Coal Manufacturing Companies:

These companies play a key role as Flyash is obtained from the combustion of coal, these companies play the most important role in making this project a success. First, They should already have a proper Flyash treatment system, for which they have to spend money, we also know that the Flyash waste management is not carried out properly in many of the factories of these companies. This way the company can actually generate revenue and also help the farmers improve in a more sustainable way. These companies should produce varied compositions of this Keratin-Flyash mixture and create awareness about these products and the method of use to the farmers.


The government should create awareness about such products and help the Coal manufacturing companies to make this a successful product. The government should provide subsidies for Coal manufacturing companies and incentives to encourage them to carry this project forward.

Media Companies:

These companies should help market and create awareness about this product.I am a college student, and a part of Media Relations team for our College Cultural Fest, hence I can help with marketing and publicity for this product. 

Where will these actions be taken?

  • This action can be taken in countries where a substantial part of the economy depends on agriculture, Like India, Bangladesh etc. This will help to improve the economy of these countries and also improve the lives of farmers, as the cost of fertilizer can be completely eliminated. It can be used in villages where coal plants are situated nearby too, this will further reduce the cost of obtaining Flyash. 
  • Countries with a High production of FLyash like India, Germany,China, U.S.A can also take this up.
  • Countries that have poor soil quality like Africa can also use this mixture as Flyash ,as it increses the microporosity and water holding capacity of the soil. It improves the texture of soil and workability etc. 

In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.


Country 2


Country 3


Country 4


Country 5

United States


What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

What are other key benefits?

Apart from its use in agriculture as stated above, this mixture can be used in making composites for water purification.

 Lead contamination in water in India is about 50-400 ppb and according to the BIS specifications, it shouldn't exceed 50ppb.

Consumption of lead has an all-round impact, damaging the kidneys, gastro intestinal tract, brain, and nervous system leading to behavioral and learning problems. The WHO estimates that 120 million people are overexposed to lead and 99 per cent of the most serious cases are in the developing world. 

As Keratin absorbs good amount of Heavy metals like lead, cadmium etc and can be extracted from natural waste products like Feathers, Human hair etc. It helps in Waste Management and is a point of use water purifier. Hence can be used even in the remotest of places, without any technology involved and is also less complicated.

Apart from this, it can be used as:

  • Reinforcement in concrete
  • Air purifier in Factories (Removal of Flue gas etc.)
  • can be easily mixed to make composites for other purposes.
  • As aggregates
  • In making of Geopolymers
  •  Applications in flooring, Cosmetics, Railway sleepers, Doors etc.
  • Can be mixed with putty for paints to make it safe from lead pollution.
  • It is not only useful for farmers but also to coal manufacturing companies as now they need not worry about flyash management and can even generate revenue from it.
  • It also saves a lot of space as Every ton of coal combustion products that is used to produce this product is a ton that is not deposited in a landfill, saving the same amount of space that the average American uses over 455 days.
  • This mixture also replaces the need for cement production- a major source of Greenhouse gas emissions.
  • India’s most interesting policies is a levy on coal, introduced in 2010, the funds from which go into a National Clean Energy Fund.This can be of these Coal manufacturing companies.
  • Also, there is pressure on India to reduce it Greenhouse Gas emissions, but as a developing nation it has a lot of Infrastructure Projects going on, also not compromising on Agriculture which is the backbone of Indian Economy. This Flyash Keratin mixture can be used in both for building and mainly in agriculture, also it reduces greenhouse emissions, hence it can reduce the pressure on India and other developing countries without compromising on Agriculture or Infrastructure.





What are the proposal’s projected costs?

It may cost about 100 dollars, maximum to produce this mixture. 


  • Extraction of Keratin is difficult due to the high resistance of keratin to various chemical reagents and enzymes. The highly cross-linked network structure with numerous disulfide and hydrogen bonds, as well as hydrophobic interactions, and tightly packed keratin microfibrils causes that the protein is insoluble in water, solutions of weak alkali and acids, and most organic solvents.
  • Different crops will need different percentage composition of the mixture so it's tedious to research and find the perfect composition for each crop and also for the farmer to use different composition for different crops.






This project will take about 2-3 years for the R&D phase,

  • To formulate different compositions of the mixture for different crops.
  • To  formulate different chemical treatments for the keratin,so that its absorption efficiency increases.

The field tests of the product cantake about 2 years.

It will take about 5 Years to hit the market after it is taken up by coal manufacturing companies.

To improve the product, further research can be done to enhance its moisture absorption and nitrogen absorption from atmosphere which will take about 5 years.

The product when launched in India will show results in 5-7 years, saving space of about 27500-acre ft of space 

It can reduce the carbon footprint by 70-90% in 30 years, and also reduce the Greenhouse emissions by 20% in 30-35 years

Also the problems of pollution due to ash ponds and landfills of flyash will be reduced by 50-60% by 2050 





About the author(s)

Hi! I am Pooja Hariharan Second year Undergraduate Student in BTech Chemical Engineering at National Institute of Technology Tiruchirapalli, Tamilnadu ,India.

I am very passionate about using Science as a medium to help shape our world in a better way and preserving the natural beauty of our Mother Earth.

I am interested in Material Science and Energy related fields and would take up projects in future in these fields. 

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