In Mar del Plata, the exoskeletons of shrimp and prawns are only used to produce fishmeal. (Photo: Stock File)
Shrimp waste has high potential
Tuesday, October 12, 2010, 02:00 (GMT + 9)
Researchers at the Laboratory of Microbiology of the National Institute for Industrial Technology (INTI) in Mar del Plata are working on project with the aim of exploiting fish waste.
The team, led by César Melton Libenson, who is in charge of the INTI Microbiology Subprogram, are conducting research related to the production of chitosan biomaterial from the exoskeletons of shrimps and prawns that were previously discarded.
Chitosan is a polysaccharide derived from chitin, which in nature is part of the exoskeleton of invertebrates, especially in the shells of crustaceans (shrimps, lobsters, crabs and krill) as well as some fungi.
Chitosan has the potential to be applied in numerous fields:
- Agriculture: seed coating to preserve them, fertilizer releasing systems
- Medicine: production of dressings, bandages, sutures, in pharmacology (antibacterial additive, moisturizing agent)
- Food Industry: preservative, antioxidant, emulsifier, stabilizer, colorant
- Biotechnology: support for the immobilization of enzymes, biosensors, replacement of plastic products
- Water treatment: coagulant for wastewater, capture heavy metals and pesticides
- Manufacture of paper and textiles.
It is also biocompatible, biodegradable, nontoxic, film forming and its emulsifying property is absorbent, antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal.
In Mar del Plata, the exoskeletons of shrimp and prawns are only used to produce fishmeal.
The scientists used shrimp exoskeletons (shells or husks), which is waste from reprocessing whole frozen prawns, delivered by the company Moscuzza S.A.
"To develop the chemical process of isolation, various steps were implemented such as shell washing, drying and grinding, depigmentation decanted and dried, deproteinization, softening, decarbonization, vacuum filtration and washing, acetylation, washing and drying," stated INTI.
In the next phase they will work on optimizing the process conditions and establish a simple technique to determine the purity of the product.
In parallel, experts from the INTI Environmental Engineering Area will initiate a work program to test coagulant and flocculant action of chitosan in liquid effluents.
By Analia Murias