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Issue 01/2017

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From Materials Science

From Materials Science and Research How prawn shopping bags could save the planet Bioengineers at The University of Nottingham (UK) are trialling how to use shrimp shells to make biodegradable shopping bags, as a green alternative to oil-based plastic, and as a new food packaging material to extend product shelf life.The new material for these affordable eco-friendly bags is being optimised for Egyptian conditions, as effective waste management is one of the country’s biggest challenges. An expert in testing the properties of materials, Dr Nicola Everitt from the Faculty of Engineering at Nottingham, is leading the research together with academics at Nile University in Egypt. “Non-degradable plastic packaging is causing environmental and public health problems in Egypt, including contamination of water supplies which particularly affects living conditions of the poor,” explains Dr Everitt. Turning the problem into the solution This new project aims to turn shrimp shells, which are a part of the country’s waste problem into part of the solution. Dr Everitt said: “Use of a degradable biopolymer made of prawn shells for carrier bags would lead to lower carbon emissions (…). It could also make exports more acceptable to a foreign market within a 10-15-year time frame. All priorities at a national level in Egypt.” Degradable nanocomposite material The research is being undertaken to produce an innovative biopolymer nanocomposite material which is degradable, affordable and suitable for shopping bags and food packaging. Chitosan is a man-made polymer derived from the organic compound chitin, which is extracted from shrimp shells, first using acid (to remove the calcium carbonate backbone of the crustacean shell) and then alkali (to produce the long molecular chains which make up the biopolymer). The dried chitosan flakes can then be dissolved into solution and polymer film made by conventional processing techniques. Chitosan was chosen because it is a promising biodegradable polymer already used in pharmaceutical packaging due to its antimicrobial, antibacterial and biocompatible properties. The second strand of the project is to develop an active polymer film that absorbs oxygen. Enhancing food shelf life and cutting food waste This future generation food packaging could have the ability to enhance food shelf life with high efficiency and low energy consumption, making a positive impact on food wastage in many countries. If successful, Dr Everitt plans to approach UK packaging manufacturers with the product. Additionally, the research aims to identify a production route by which these degradable biopolymer materials for shopping bags and food packaging could be manufactured. Acknowledgement The project is sponsored by the Newton Fund and the Newton-Mosharafa Fund grant and is one of 13 Newtonfunded collaborations for The University of Nottingham. MT Chitosan film made from shrimp shell in the early developmental phase (picture courtesy of University of Nottingham) 28 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/17] Vol. 12

Book Review Keratin-based Biomaterials and Bioproducts Soy-based Bioplastics One of the most economical and practical approaches to develop bioproducts including bioplastics is to use abundant low-cost agricultural byproducts and coproducts. Residues left after harvesting food crops, byproducts generated during production of biofuels, and conversion of animals and plants into food are some of the readily available raw materials suitable for development of bioproducts. Keratins are unique biopolymers that have distinct structure, properties and applications. Keratins are the major constituents in hairs, feathers, claws, hooves and other parts in humans and animals. Unlike many body parts, keratins are dispensable and are removed periodically. Examples include hairs and nails. Although keratins have unique functionality and structure, there are limited industrial uses of keratin. Keratin is being used commercially in cosmetics and some medicines. However, substantial amounts of keratinaceous materials are being disposed as waste in landfills. This book presents the structure and properties of keratin and their possible applications. Information in this book will be useful to researchers in academia and industry working on bioproducts and also on tissue engineering and drug delivery. Brief information on the products developed has also been included. Researchers, students, agriculturists, and farmers will be able to understand the potential of developing various keratin-based bioproducts. You can buy the books through us: Soy and its coproducts are rapidly emerging as one of the most prominent sustainable plastics of the 21 st century. The relative abundance of soy and its functional and thermoplastic properties, low cost, and biodegradable characteristics have made it a material of great interest for widespread use in the plastics industry. As most of the functional properties of the final products are directly related to the physico-chemical properties of the raw material, a detailed knowledge of the inherent characteristics of soy-based materials is essential for understanding and manipulating their properties for better end-user applications. This book summarises in a most comprehensive manner the recent technical research accomplishments in the area of soy-based bioplastics. The prime aim and focus of this book is to present recent advances in the processing and applications of soybased biopolymers as potential bioplastics. It reflects recent theoretical advances and experimental results, and opens new avenues for researchers as well as readers working in the field of plastics and sustainable materials. The different topics covered in this book include: structural analysis of soy-based materials; soy/biopolymer blends; films, fibres, foams, and composites; and different advanced applications. In addition, several critical issues and suggestions for future work are comprehensively discussed in the hope that the book will provide a deep insight into the state of the art of soy-based bioplastics. The book is unique, with contributions from leading experts in the bioplastics research area, and is a useful reference for scientists, academics, research scholars, and technologists. bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/17] Vol. 12 29

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