Fish Radio

Chitin from crab shells on cusp of a bio-revolution , beginning in Juneau

August 12, 2015

Chitin from crab, shrimp shells Credit: sciencedirect.com

Chitin from crab, shrimp shells
Credit: sciencedirect.com

This is Fish Radio.  Chitin from crab shells is on the cusp of a bio – revolution. More after this –

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The incredible uses for chitin are at the root of a bio-revolution  – beginning in Juneau.  Chitin is a compound found in the shells of all crabs, shrimp and insects. It’s molecules bond together similar to nylon and resins, making it ideal for fabrics, bio-plastics, bandages and stitches, bio-pesticides ,   coatings that heal their own scratches – and most recently, sun block!

The thing is processed chitin can’t be made in the USA. That’s boosted the price for top quality chitin  to more than $100 per pound.

 The issue is that all the chemicals must be disposed of properly and that is very expensive. Currently all the chitin in the world is produced in China and India because they have less strict regulations on disposal.    We realized to make this viable in Alaska and the US, and with a process we felt good about producing, we had to eliminate all that. 

Craig Kasberg is CEO of Tidal Vision in Juneau. His team’s new eco-friendly process is turning the world of chitin production on its head.

Instead of putting it in a series of chemicals, you put it in one mixture and it doesn’t contain any hydrochloric acid or sodium hydroxide – it’s an ionic solution extraction so that everything else stays intact and the chitin dislodges itself from everything else in the shells in this slurry and disperses itself into the fluid.

The slurry goes through filters in a closed loop system that allows for repeated use and recycling. The shipping van-sized production units  will be mobile for remote use.

What we determined with the seasonality and production everywhere, we had to make these closed loop systems mobile, so we can ship these unites to a remote location and only ship the valuable part out.

Tidal Vision recently signed a non disclosure agreement with a major seafood company. A   pilot plant is going up that Kasberg says will be making up to 1,500 pounds of chitin per day in Alaska by late October.

Earlier this year Tidal Vision launched a line of toxin free, “upcycled” salmon leather wallets  cell phone covers and more.  www.tidalvisionusa.com

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. (www.oceanbeauty.com) In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.

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