Shrimp and crab shell waste can be useful as raw material for oil spill buoys and barriers. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Shrimp and crab wastes help to contain oil spills
Wednesday, August 03, 2011, 01:50 (GMT + 9)
Crab and shrimp shells, which have been discarded so far, can be used to make buoys, barriers and blankets for oil spill containment at sea.
This was said by Edmilson Jose Maria, Professor of Chemistry at the State University of Norte Fluminense Darcy Ribeiro (UENF), who found that the chitin present in large quantities in shellfish can be used to generate chitosan, an insoluble natural fiber.
"Chitin and chitosan have a greater absorption capacity; each gram of the produced buoy was able to adsorb 83 grams of oil. This means that it is a product with low production cost and high adsorption capacity," said the researcher.
In addition, he stated that shrimp shells have between 5 per cent and 7 per cent of chitin and crab shells have between 15 per cent and 20 per cent.
Thanks to the project Reuse of waste from the shrimp fishing industry for buoy production to contain oil spill in the sea, with the support of Prioridade Rio, from the Foundation for support to research from Rio de Janeiro State (Faperj), it is expected to eradicate ugly smells and pollution, as the waste of both resources attracts insects and rodents, and to benefit the environment.
Edmilson estimated that at least 180 boats that captured about 20 tonnes per day can produce about three or four tonnes of crustacean remains.
"For buoy production it is necessary to gather these shells and subject them to demineralization, deproteinization and depigmentation processes. Waste undergoes various chemical processes, the smell is taken away, until the main raw materials -- chitin and chitosan – are reached," said the researcher.
The buoys must still be subjected to some tests to evaluate their effectiveness, buoyancy and wettability in water, among other things, comparing them with the models produced from vegetable fibers.
The next steps will be to develop products based on chitin and chitosan in large quantities.
"I think this project can also develop the population’s environmental awareness, especially in the case of those involved in fishing and in the treatment of shrimp," assured the scientist, according to the Agency Faperj.
This project is conducted in UENF Chemistry Laboratory.
By Analia Murias