Mussel shells from the deep give life to an innovative bioplastic and concrete-like material
Chitin, a fibrous substance that makes up the exoskeleton of crustaceans, is at the center of two innovative projects that could find huge applications, according to their creators.
The Shellworks Project
Four designers from the British Royal College of Art are the authors of Shellworks – an idea for turning seafood waste into recyclable bioplastic objects. The shells are transformed into sheets, a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic, reports dezeen.
What’s valuable is that designers are figuring out how to chemically extract chitin, one of the world’s most abundant biopolymers, to make a sustainable material out of it. After realizing how expensive this raw material is and after a lot of experimentation, they managed to invent five types of devices. The machines turn the shells into bioplastics of varying hardness and flexibility, which can be used to make a variety of household items, which in turn can be recycled.
The first Shelly apparatus is a mini extractor that is used for the initial process of extracting the valuable chitin from the shells. The remaining four apparatuses develop different versions of the resulting bioplastic solution – from medicine packaging to market bags and biodegradable flower pots.
The Sea Stone Project
Sea Stone evolved from the Newtab-22 studio’s ambition to alleviate the problem of seafood waste – according to experts, around 7 million tons are thrown away worldwide every year. Some of it is recycled and used for fertilizer, but the majority ends up in landfills and on beaches and in the process of rotting it pollutes the environment in the long term.
“Sea Stone” is made by grinding shells and combining them with natural non-toxic ingredients to form an environmentally friendly building block. This material could become a sustainable alternative to concrete, according to its inventors, because it has similar properties. Sea shells are rich in calcium carbonate, known as limestone, which is used to make cement, a key ingredient in concrete.
The double benefit: solving the problem of garbage and creating an environmentally friendly, economically sustainable, interesting and unique material gives Sea Stone a high place in the ranking of good green ideas. The “sea stone” is currently produced by hand to avoid the use of heat and chemical treatment and to ensure that the process is as sustainable and affordable as possible, the publication said.