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 Tracing the evolution of vision
23.08.2019 | University of Göttingen

nachricht Caffeine does not influence stingless bees
23.08.2019 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Hamburg and Kiel researchers observe spontaneous occurrence of skyrmions in atomically thin cobalt films

Since their experimental discovery, magnetic skyrmions - tiny magnetic knots - have moved into the focus of research. Scientists from Hamburg and Kiel have now been able to show that individual magnetic skyrmions with a diameter of only a few nanometres can be stabilised in magnetic metal films even without an external magnetic field. They report on their discovery in the journal Nature Communications.

The existence of magnetic skyrmions as particle-like objects was predicted 30 years ago by theoretical physicists, but could only be proven experimentally in...

Im Focus: Physicists create world's smallest engine

Theoretical physicists at Trinity College Dublin are among an international collaboration that has built the world's smallest engine - which, as a single calcium ion, is approximately ten billion times smaller than a car engine.

Work performed by Professor John Goold's QuSys group in Trinity's School of Physics describes the science behind this tiny motor.

Im Focus: Quantum computers to become portable

Together with the University of Innsbruck, the ETH Zurich and Interactive Fully Electrical Vehicles SRL, Infineon Austria is researching specific questions on the commercial use of quantum computers. With new innovations in design and manufacturing, the partners from universities and industry want to develop affordable components for quantum computers.

Ion traps have proven to be a very successful technology for the control and manipulation of quantum particles. Today, they form the heart of the first...

Im Focus: Towards an 'orrery' for quantum gauge theory

Experimental progress towards engineering quantized gauge fields coupled to ultracold matter promises a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics

The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the...

Im Focus: A miniature stretchable pump for the next generation of soft robots

Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.

Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The power of thought – the key to success: CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019

16.08.2019 | Event News

4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020 28 - 29 April 2020, Karlsruhe, Germany

14.08.2019 | Event News

What will the digital city of the future look like? City Science Summit on 1st and 2nd October 2019 in Hamburg

12.08.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Making small intestine endoscopy faster with a pill-sized high-tech camera

23.08.2019 | Medical Engineering

More reliable operation offshore wind farms

23.08.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tracing the evolution of vision

23.08.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>