Chitin is obtained from crab, shrimp or from lobster waste. Adult insects are utilized for the reproduction and larvae are utilized as protein source for animal feeds. Further, the leftover insect and cocoon bodies are utilized as a chitin source. Textile industry, packaging and building & constructions are key end use industries of chitin. According to Future Market Insights, the global chitin market is anticipated to register moderate growth rate during 2017-2027. Several key companies such as Wellable, Bayir Extracts Pvt. Ltd., SHANDONG LAIZHOU HIGHLY BIO-PRODUCTS CO.Ltd., Zhejiang Aoxing Biotechnology Co., Ltd., and Yaizu Suisankagaku Industry Co., Ltd. have been developing number of products with the use of chitin. Along with these companies, A. Barton Hinkle has developed a technique to replace plastics by chitin.
Barton Hinkle Moves a Step beyond Plastics
The old DuPont plant doesn’t look like ground zero for the next technological revolution. A welding shop has been built next door and a lumber supply company is short walk away. The director of public affairs, Richard Feldman for Mari Signum stated that a leap forward in materials science, which could help solve the global plastic problem.
The problem requires recitation as plastics are utilized for number of purposes. Almost 300 million tons of plastic is being manufactured across the world, one-third of which is used for disposable packaging. However plastics are environmental contaminant as they do not biodegrade. The idea grown from the fact that if any material which is more environmental friendly could take plastic’s place. It would have to be biodegradable. Thereby, Feldman suggested the ‘chitin’, which will replace plastic and which will be more environmental friendly.
Chitin is environmental arising substance, resulting from glucose, which is set up in butterfly wings, fish scales, particularly in shells of crustaceans like shrimp and lobster. It is the most abundant material on the planet, after cellulose, which makes up the cell walls of plants.
Nowadays, chitin and its derivative can be found in food processing, water filtration, dissolvable stitches, wound dressing, wine-making and cosmetics. One can even buy chitosan from Walmart for its supposed weight-loss properties. Chitin owes its versatility to its broad array properties such as biodegradable, non-toxic, and anti-microbial as well as it is water soluble and the most importantly, being natural, it is environmentally friendly as chitin is abundant in nature. The only disadvantage is taking out chitin from crustacean shells where it is attached with calcium carbonate that creates it hard as it needed a fairly toxic method involving chemicals such as sulfuric and nitric acids.
However, this is changing nowadays. A Scottish company, CuanTec, which is similar to Mari Signum, claims to be leading revolution against petroleum plastic that utilizes a bacterial fermentation procedure to extract chitin for biodegradable food packaging. Entrepreneur John Felts is hoping to replace standard surfboards that are made out of polyurethane foam, with a similar foam produced of chitin. It is further utilized in the manufacturing of furniture, cars and packaging. Penn state is broadcasting the benefits of a product researchers there have developed. Half chitin and half glucose are likely to eliminate million tons of petroleum-based plastic annually.
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