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Engineering Materials

Shrimp Shells Make Compostable, Moldable Bioplastic

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lhidalgoa
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Iron
Re: now that's an eco friendly material
lhidalgoa   5/22/2014 5:47:13 PM
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Chitin and Chitosan can be used in many industries, not only for plastics.

Chitin is the base from where Glucosamine is obtained. Pharmaceuticals.

Chitin in powder can be used in treatment of some types of skin burns.

Chitosan can be used in agriculture, in many types of crops, and Papaya, Sugar Cain, Tangerine, Grapes, Tomatoes, and many others.

Also Chitosan is being used in medicine, and by the USA Armed forces supplying their members in the field of action with packs of bandages, to stop bleeding from wounds. These bandages are impregnated with Chitosan, to seal the wound. In addition given the antibacterial action of the Chitosan, keeps the wound free of infection. Understand they are recently coming to the market in OVC sales.

Don´t know in USA, but in Europe, bed sheets on the hospitals are being impregnated or specially treated with Chitosan. These way patients with long stay in bed do not develop scars, plus no infection, do to bed bugs, or other invasive insects found in mattresses and bed linen.

There are so many more uses for these two natural bio-polymers, water treatment, wine industry, clothes, food industry, cosmetics (Chitosan helps the skin cells to keep healthy).

And as many of you mentioned, it is obtained from waist of crustacean.

William K.
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Platinum
Re: now that's an eco friendly material
William K.   3/25/2014 2:20:23 PM
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Ann, Ok, now I am aware of what part of the shrimp contains the chitlin. I don't discard that part, it adds a nice texture to the shrimp.But I do discrd the heads and legs portion, which don't taste good at all. But the cat loves them anyways.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: now that's an eco friendly material
Ann R. Thryft   3/25/2014 11:21:51 AM
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William, I'm not sure what you're asking. The material we describe here is made of chitosan, a form of chitin from discarded shrimp shells, which does not come from other shrimp parts. "Discarded" implies that commercial shrimp fishers would not be the source of volumes, but commercial food packers might be. Chitin is described by the Harvard researchers as being the second most abundant organic material on the planet (probably because of the huge mass of insect exoskeletons made of it), and shrimp are consumed in huge volumes by humans.

Elizabeth M
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Re: now that's an eco friendly material
Elizabeth M   3/25/2014 5:24:47 AM
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Those are both good points, William K., the commercial shrimp industry--which already does the "stinky" job--would certainly be a big factor in making the material available. And it's true that humans don't eat other parts that animals would. I guess it would depend on if the material used for bioplastic is available in those parts as well.

William K.
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Platinum
Re: now that's an eco friendly material
William K.   3/20/2014 11:27:05 AM
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My guess is that to have enough of the material to be economically viable the source would need to be commercial shrimp processors, which would probably simplify the transport logistics quite a bit. 

I do wonder about how much of the rest of the shrimp is able to be included, since the food part of a shrimp is a bit less than half of the raw weight. I know that some animals will eat the whole shrimp, but I have no idea about what portion of the part that humans don't like is actually useable in the process. That would be sort of interesting to find out, what portion of the non-eaten shrimp actually works as feedstock for the recovery for the transformation process.. 

Elizabeth M
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Re: now that's an eco friendly material
Elizabeth M   3/20/2014 8:17:40 AM
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Good point, William K. shrimp shells are pretty stinky. I don't envy the person whose job it is to gather them for the transformation into biomaterial. Maybe if they are stored at the right temperature before use it won't be so bad.

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: bio-polymers
Ann R. Thryft   3/19/2014 11:59:51 AM
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profgroove, as I understand it, the thorny lignin processing problem occurs at the catalyst level, i.e., finding one. It's an entirely different chemistry. The simplicity of processing chitin & chitosan, along with their ready biodegradability & abundance, are the main reasons to turn to them instead of cellulose-based feedstocks, as well as not using trees.

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: now that's an eco friendly material
Ann R. Thryft   3/19/2014 11:51:30 AM
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William, I know from direct experience what they smell like when decomposing in my waste basket: I'm a total shrimp lover. So this will do everyone an extra favor by, we hope, removing them in large quantities before decomposition.

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: now that's an eco friendly material
Ann R. Thryft   3/19/2014 11:48:29 AM
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Thanks, Liz. As a reporter, it's great to see R&D I wrote about two years ago take another step forward toward realization. And I totally agree about all the benefits of this one.

profgroove
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Iron
bio-polymers
profgroove   3/19/2014 11:14:36 AM
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Lignin is an annoyance in the composting of waste wood products due to its polymeric robustness; could it be incorporated into or similarly processed as chitosan?


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