The material is fully biodegradable and does not cause any harm to the environment.
Researchers have created a new biomaterial from chitin integuments of crustaceans, which can replace plastic packaging, significantly reducing the load on the environment.
Polysaccharide-based polyelectrolyte complex in equal proportions consists of wood or cotton cellulose and chitosan, which is extracted from chitin, the main element of the exoskeletons of arthropods and crustaceans. The main source of chitin — mountains of waste from the shells of lobsters, crabs and shrimp that remain after people eat, according to Futurity.
The material is fully biodegradable and does not cause any harm to the environment. Cardboard, covered with the biomaterial consists of nanostructured fibrous particles of carboxymethyl cellulose and chitosan, showed excellent protective properties after exposure to water and oil. Also he was resistant to toluene, heptane, saline solutions, the processing of wet and dry steam, and to mechanical damage. The research results were published in the journal Green Chemistry.
It’s amazing how strong was the connection of carboxymethyl cellulose and chitosan. Two very cheap polysaccharide have been used in the food industry and other productive sectors. Having different molecular charges, they interlock with each other forming a composition, which can be the basis for an impermeable films, coatings, adhesives, etc.
“These environmentally safe barrier coating can be used in various purposes, beginning with the production of waterproof paper, lasting coating for ceiling and wall tiles, and ending with edible coatings for sealing products”, — says the head of the research team Jeffrey Ketchmark, Professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. “Now our main task is to figure out how to make the new material is cheaper than plastic. After all, if we really want to introduce “green” technology, manufacturers don’t have to take the losses,” says Ketchmark. The Ministry of agriculture of the USA has supported the work of scientists.
If chitin coating will replace plastic packaging, then we will have truly global reducing environmental pollution. Today the world produces about 300 million tons of plastic annually. In the USA only 29 million tons of plastic is converted into solid waste, half of which is packaging from food and other commodities. Approximately 10% of the world’s plastic gets into the ocean, becoming a significant threat to human health and the environment.
Perhaps Ketchmark should apply to the government of Costa Rica. This country has set the ambitious target: by 2021 it is going to completely abandon use of plastic that cannot be recycled. It is not just a ban on plastic bags or bottles of drinks.
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