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The Shellworks is a team of master's students at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London.
The Shellworks is all about taking unknown bio-material and trying to bring it into the mainstream.
Together they make bioplastics from lobster shells.
The team is comprised of architects and mechanical engineers and product design engineers.
And we all had this fascination with food waste and specifically crustacean waste and fish waste, which is not often looked at from a design-and-engineering point of view.
The shells of these crabs and lobsters will sometimes just go to a landfill where they can start emitting methane.
And we were interested in whether there was a way to valorize that waste stream.
Over 250,000 tons of crustacean waste are produced every year in the EU alone.
That waste is equal to about 1,600 blue whales.
But what's so valuable about that waste?
We found this biopolymer inside crustacean shells called chitin that you can treat in a certain way to extract and actually make a bioplastic from those shells.
Chitin is the second-most abundant organic material on earth.
It's found in insects, fungi, and crustaceans.
We started working with lobsters because they're a really interesting waste source.
By weight, chitin accounts for about 30% of the shell, and it's also the case that with lobsters they're eaten at the restaurant.
So as opposed to shellfish or shrimp where they get industrially deshelled, these lobster shells are just going to waste at the restaurant source.
Through chemical processes, all that chitin can be turned into chitosan, which is where The Shellworks comes in.
What you need to do is to extract the chitosan before you can use it as a bioplastic.
So the first stage is an extraction, which is this machine behind me.
So we've designed four machines, Shelly, Sheety, Vaccy, and Dippy.
The first machine is an extraction unit.
We basically put in ground-up lobster shells.
It runs through a set of processes, and out comes the powder, which is the chitosan.
We will start with the shells.
We will extract the chitosan powder and then to that we will add vinegar in varying ratios.
That will form a kind of chitosan and bioplastic goop, which we will put into the dip-forming machine.
Each machine is kind of good for making a different thing.
The sheet-former obviously only makes sheets.
The vacuum-former is good for making kind of less three-dimensional reliefs, so things like blister packaging.
And then the dip-molder is excellent for making really extruded shapes, so very three-dimensional objects.
We can also make plastic bags from these sheets by gluing them together with more of the bioplastic, which means that the bag is 100% chitosan and so it's much more easily recycled.
We used our projects to illustrate that the material can actually be formed into lots of applications that could be a really compelling replacement for some single-use plastic items.
So we have designed plant pots that self-fertilize.
So they actually get planted with the plant in the ground, and as they biodegrade, they become a fertilizer for the plant.
The bioplastic is water soluble, which is both a blessing and a curse.
It makes it very easy to recycle, but obviously limits the applications that we can do with it.
So we're looking at ways of waterproofing material with kind of natural wax coatings that would make it more applicable for a wider range of things.
I describe the machines as quite accessible.
We kind of designed them from scratch in workshops, so potentially other people could also build these machines.
The project is all about bridging the gap between science and industry.
We find that there's so much stuff out there in scientific papers which never actually makes it into industry, which is a real shame.
So we've kind of taken inspiration from certain things that we've found in scientific papers.
And developed those into processes that might be scalable in industry to kind of really make this bioplastic something that could be feasible in the real world.
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【環境教育】地球救星!龍蝦殼取代一次性塑膠? (How Lobster Shells Could Replace Single-Use Plastic)

4872 分類 收藏
Liang Chen 發佈於 2019 年 6 月 4 日    Liang Chen 翻譯    Winnie Liao 審核
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