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Can We Make Bioplastic With Crustaceans?

McGill University researchers developed a way to make everyday objects like cutlery, straws, and single-use plastic bags disposable.

The Wyss Institute at Harvard University has been working hard to produce chitosan. Chitosan is a medicinal polysaccharide, a form of chitin- a fibrous substance obtained from the crustaceans' shells. Chitosan is one of the most profuse materials existent, therefore an excellent material for replacing plastic.

Material engineers had trouble fabricating chitin into a 3D shape until in 2014, when Javier Fernandez, Ph.D. and Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D. of the Wyss Institute discovered a method of using casting or injection molding manufacturing processes.

Furthermore, their chitosan bioplastic breaks down within two weeks when disposed to the environment, and even helps support plant growth with rich nutrients.

In addition, they discovered a way to resolve chitosan polymer failing to keep its original shape after the injection molding process: add wood flour, a waste product from wood processing into the compound.

On January of 2019, a team from Montreal's McGill University has joined them.

Audrey Moore, an associate professor of chemistry at McGill who discovered how to make plastics from lobster shells, admitted that it was difficult to make chitosan durable or large quantities. The patented progress of the "Moore's Group," nonetheless, is in the advancement of making the natural biodegradable polysaccharide more resistant by using longer molecular chains.


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