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 Protein interaction helps Yersinia cause disease
21.08.2018 | Schwedischer Forschungsrat - The Swedish Research Council

nachricht Nanobot pumps destroy nerve agents
21.08.2018 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Protein interaction helps Yersinia cause disease

21.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Biosensor allows real-time oxygen monitoring for 'organs-on-a-chip'

21.08.2018 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>