Your cosmetics could soon contain traces of shrimp shells



To reduce food waste linked to the consumption of shrimp, Brazilian scientists are currently conducting a host of varied experiments. Products formulated with a compound contained in the shells of these crustaceans could soon see the light of day in the form of insecticides, medicines and moisturizing creams.

Along with oysters, scallops and crabs, shrimp have been added to the list of crustaceans and mollusks when it comes to sources of innovations designed to reduce food waste.

Massively consumed in Brazil, especially in the north of the country, shrimp have been the subject of research for several years at the laboratory of the Federal University of Amapa (Unifap), a state located on the border of French Guyana.

The idea is to recover shrimp shell waste by the tons and extract chitin, a nitrogenous component naturally present in the shrimp’s exoskeleton, that has many interesting properties.

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All organic waste is cleaned off the shells; pigment and odour are then removed from the shells, which are ground into powder to produce chitosan, a chemical derivative of chitin. The material is capable of forming up to 12 substances, which can be used in the production of various products such as insecticides and medicines.

“Chitosan has been widely used to prepare films, bioplastics, and drug capsules. It is a very commercialized chemical material,” outlined Irlon Maciel, a chemistry professor at ‘Unifap, in an article published by Brazilian media outlet Globo.com,

The Brazilian team is not the only researchers working on these types of experiment: American scientists from Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are working on a new type of cement made of chitin nanoparticles from shrimp shells.

According to their study published in September in the journal Cement and Concrete Composites, the addition of this component significantly improved the strength of cement.

Using this method, the researchers hope to be able to make concrete that contains less cement. Cement is responsible for about 8% of global CO2 emissions.

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