The team developed a bioplastic from chitosan, a form of chitin, which the second most abundant organic material on Earth. The majority of available chitin in the world comes from discarded shrimp shells. Wyss Institute Postdoctoral Fellow Javier Fernández, Ph.D., spoke to FoxNews.com about his lab's work.
Harvard University researchers have created a fully biodegradable plastic from shrimp shells. Dubbed shrilk, the bioplastic is made of the main ingredient found in the hardy shells: chitin. The tough, transparent material is already being transformed into complex shapes like egg cartons and chess pieces, the Harvard Gazette reports. Shrilk, which breaks down in the environment in as little as 2 weeks, is described in Macromolecular Materials and Engineering.
Researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have introduced a new bioplastic isolated from shrimp shells. It’s made from chitosan, a form of chitin — the second-most abundant organic material on Earth.
Javier Fernandez admits he's not a huge fan of chess. "I'm not very good either," he says. Nevertheless, his queen, king, rook and knight are attracting a lot of attention. The black and white chess pieces are made of plastic, but not the petroleum-based kind experts warn may be laden with hormone-scrambling chemcials. Rather, Fernandez and his colleagues molded the complex game pieces from a compostable material abundant in nature: Chitin.
Javier Fernández visited Science for the Public at the Belmont Media Center in Massachusetts to talk about shrilk, a new material that could replace plastic. Fernández talks about what shrilk is made of that makes it biodegradable and biocompatible (to be potentially used in surgery on the human body). He also discussed the need to replace plastic in our society.