Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sea shells for sale: A new source of sustainable biomaterials

05.07.2017

Over 7 million tonnes of mollusc shells are discarded by the seafood industry each year as unwanted waste - and the vast majority of these shells are either thrown in landfills or dumped at sea. Dr James Morris and a team of CACHE researchers from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences are looking at environmentally and economically sustainable options for these biomaterials.

"Mollusc shells are viewed by the aquaculture and seafood industries as 'nuisance waste' and largely disposed of in landfills", says Dr Morris. "Not only is this an expensive and ecologically harmful practice, it is a colossal waste of potentially useful biomaterials".


Artificial oyster reef in the Netherlands is pictured.

Credit: Dr James Morris

One of the most exciting applications proposed by Dr Morris is the use of discarded shells to restore damaged oyster reefs and cultivate the growth of new oysters. The restoration of these reefs requires little money and effort, but can have huge ecological advantages.

"Healthy shellfish populations can have many benefits to the environment: cleaning the water, providing a complex structure for other organisms to call home, and also acting as a coastal protection structure," explains Dr Morris.

Mollusc shells consist of over 95% calcium carbonate, which is used in many agricultural and engineering applications. Crushed shells can be spread on farmer's fields to control soil acidity or fed to egg-laying hens as a calcium supplement.

Calcium carbonate is also a common ingredient in cement mix and has found additional use in effectively treating wastewater. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the world's calcium carbonate comes from ecologically harmful and unsustainable limestone mining.

"Reusing shell waste is a perfect example of a circular economy, particularly as shells are a valuable biomaterial, not only does it improve the sustainability of the aquaculture industry moving forwards, but it can also provide secondary economic benefits to shellfish growers and processors as well," says Dr Morris.

By researching how mollusc shells can act as a secondary source of calcium carbonate, Dr Morris and his team hope to provide a more sustainable alternative to mined limestone. He hopes that his work will emphasise the economic value of recycling these discarded shells back into use.

"The proper disposal procedure for shell waste is in landfill, which costs a lot of money and can be a big burden for shellfish farmers and seafood producers," says Dr Morris, "simply finding a use for shells to avoid taking them to a landfill already has economic value!"

Media Contact

Alex Evans
bs09ane@leeds.ac.uk
44-752-775-4615

http://www.sebiology.org 

Alex Evans | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Stiffness matters
22.02.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Separate brain systems cooperate during learning, study finds
22.02.2018 | Brown University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>