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  1. #1
    New Member SnugAsaBugInaRug's Avatar
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    Oct 2018
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    More than you ever wanted to know about down and the differences between goose and duck

    I recently stumbled across a thesis on down. I'm not sure if anyone has posted this or not, but I just shared it with one of the bigger quilt manufacturers and they had not seen it yet. Hopefully this will help you learn everything (AND WAY MORE) about down that you ever wanted to know. It compares goose and duck down as well as eider down.

    The thesis is entitled:

    The structure and properties of down feathers and their use in the outdoor industry
    Matthew Edward Fuller

    Submitted in accordance with the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
    School of Design
    The University of Leeds
    Under the supervision of Dr Ningtao Mao, Dr Mark Taylor, Professor Stephen Russell
    April 2015


    It is 280 pages in all. Of course that includes the title page, a thank you, a table of contents, table of figures, and even a table of tables, as well as references.

    It is very interesting but a bit technical to say the very least. I'll admit that I skipped over portions of the section on 'Elemental analysis of the chemical composition of down feathers using energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectroscopy techniques.' That started to get a little deep, even for me. There are plenty of plain english explanations of his studies. Too many to list here.

    If you want to know everything known to modern science about down then this is a great read. Download it to your phone and read it while you're laying in your snugly down quilts this winter. If you're a manufacturer or a DIYer then it's a must-read.

    If you don't want to read all of it then read the first several pages until you get bored and then scroll down as you check out the pictures, graphs, and tables, and then be sure to read his conclusions at the end.

    He sums it up better than I ever could:


    Down feathers are remarkable insulating materials that reputedly have the greatest warmth-to-weight ratio of all natural fibres, and they possess excellent compressibility and compression recovery. Despite their outstanding performance as thermal insulators, down feathers have been relatively overlooked by the academic community and their structure and properties remain quite poorly understood. To provide insight into the fundamental properties of these feathers and to inspire the design and development of future synthetic insulation materials, a study into the structural, mechanical, and thermal properties of down feathers and their assemblies has been conducted.
    The appearance, mass, size, and geometric shape of goose, duck, and eider down plumes and their barbs were assessed. While goose and duck down plumes were very similar in both appearance and size, the eider down feathers were found to be larger and their barbules had a greater number of prongs and nodes. In each type of down, barbules were adapted to occupy maximum space and utilised a planar cross-section as they divided from the barb to optimise compression recovery. The microstructure and morphology of goose and duck down barbs and barbules were analysed using SEM, TEM, and AFM and were found to be analogous to wool fibres. Melanin granules were found in goose down but not in duck down, and the examined goose down barbs had irregular, hollow cross sections, whereas duck down’s were solid and more elliptical. With the help of novel down-based nonwovens developed to capture X-ray diffraction data from goose and duck down with excellent clarity, goose and duck down were found to share great similarities in their crystal structures.
    The mechanical properties of goose, duck, and eider down feathers were studied, including a comparison of their barbs’ tensile properties and the compression resistance and recovery of individual down plumes. Eider down barbs were found to have greater Young’s moduli, ultimate strength, and strain at break than goose or duck down barbs, and individual eider down plumes were also more compression resistant than those from geese and ducks.
    The compression resistance and recovery of goose and duck down assemblies were studied using a novel apparatus. Goose down proved to be more compression resistant than duck down, attributed to its cross sectional shape and hollow geometry. The thermal resistances of goose and duck down-filled test squares were extremely similar, but the densities of the down inside the face fabrics strongly influenced their thermal resistances.
    Air-laid and thermal-bonded down-feather-based nonwovens were developed to alleviate the problem of constraining individual down feathers in insulated products. Their structural and thermal properties were evaluated and they possessed industry-leading warmth-to-weight ratios, which could be further improved by better engineering of these composite materials.
    Great efforts have been made to provide a comprehensive investigation into the structure and properties of both individual and bulk down feathers in relation to their thermal insulation properties. It is hoped that this research will prove useful to the development of superior biomimetic synthetic insulations as well as the high performance products made from down, a world-leading natural material.
    Mosquitos suck and the wind blows!

  2. #2
    Senior Member jeff-oh's Avatar
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    Oct 2017
    Bookmarked. Thank you very interesting.

  3. #3
    cmc4free's Avatar
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    Aug 2018
    Thanks for sharing; this should be interesting to skim through.

    In the past I've read a bit about the unique way in which eider down in collected, so it was cool to read that again here and it will be interesting to read more about how/why it's superior to the much more common duck/goose down we're familiar with. Even though eider down is not really used in outdoor products, an understanding of the how's and why's is something I'm curious about. Maybe it could be replicated (or dare I say improved upon) sometime in the future of nanotech manufacturing processes.

    I've done some non-scientific microscopy of goose down plumes at work, and was amazed at how intricate they are. Mother Nature is amazing.

  4. #4

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  5. #5
    TrailSlug's Avatar
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    They should have just asked us we know which is better

  6. #6
    Senior Member michigandave's Avatar
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    I briefly glanced at it. Wow, that's a long read. At first I thought it was going to go down that path of a long ago thread here on HF about harvesting down.

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