Artificial skin made with shrimp waste. (Photo: InnovaQuito)
Shrimp waste useful to produce artificial skin
Thursday, December 13, 2012, 02:20 (GMT + 9)
This week a plant that will process shrimp waste to obtain chitosan has been opened in Zulia state. This polymer may be used to make artificial skin to treat patients having burns and diabetes, among many other medical, agricultural and environmental applications.
The Ministry of Planning and Finance invested VEB 6,000 million (USD 1.4 million) for opening the plant Innovaquita Environmental Innovation, in San Francisco town.
Through this initiative, the waste of the shrimp industry will no longer be a problem for the environment in zones such as El Malencón, in the central area of Maracaibo.
This is the first chitosan processing plant in Venezuela and the third one in Latin America.
Marinela Colina, a coordinator of the plant and professor at the University of Zulia (LUZ), explained that chitosan is a biopolymer obtained from chitin, which is present in the exoskeleton of shrimp and crabs.
"It has multiple uses and we have succeeded in conducting this project that will be a joint venture between the government and the society of researchers," the investigator continued.
It is expected that about 14 people, experts in chemistry, electronics and metal-mechanics, work in the plant and that its processing capacity reaches 10 tonnes of waste daily, Panorama reported.
Prior to obtaining chitosan, the waste reaching the plant must go through deproteinization, demineralization, discoloration and deacetylation processes.
Chitosan has bactericidal, fungicidal and growth stimulants properties so it can also be used to replace other pollutants.
"Chitin is useful not only because it is biodegradable and obtaining it is economical, but also because its structure can be altered through chemical, enzymatic or physical treatments," stated Christopher Lárez Velasquez, a researcher at the University of los Andes.
The projects initiated in 2005 by the Environmental Chemistry Laboratory of the Experimental School of Sciences resulted in medical bio-skin obtained from chitosan.
These artificial skins are helpful to replace skin grafts and have more advantages because of the bactericidal and fungicidal properties of chitosan: it does not get infected or leave traces, indicates the press release from the University.
By Analia Murias