Science devises ways to recycle crustacean shells

It was only a matter of time before scientists found a way to recycle the 750 000 tonnes of crustacean shells which are disposed of in the EU every year.

Asia has successfully managed to extract polymer chitosan (used to make filters, foils and wound dressings) produced from shrimp shells. But in Europe crustaceans contain more lime, so processing is more complex and not economical. Also, the high content of calcium carbonate (known as CaCO3) of EU crab shell waste has prevented cost effective conversions to chitosan so far.

However, a solution has come from the ChiBio Project, which is developing an integrated biorefinery for processing chitin rich biowaste, to specialty and fine chemicals. ChiBio is led by the Straubing Project Group BioCat of the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB, with a consortium of 11 European partners and has been awarded EU funding of nearly EUR 3 million.

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