It may seem strange, but shrimp can replace a key ingredient in shampoos and powder detergents in the future. Welsh scientists expect that molecules found in the shell of crustaceans can be extracted and used in place of synthetic polymers in the production of personal and home care products.
The polymers are added to a range of industrial formulations (such as cosmetics)to control its thickness and increase its useful life. Researchers at the University of Glyndwr in Wales believe that natural polymers are better for the environment than synthetics, as they are not made from petrochemicals. At the Centre for Water Soluble Polymers in Wrexham, scientists modified a polymer extracted from waste shrimp shells, provided by Seagarden, a manufacturer of natural ingredients of seafood in Norway.
The polymer actually comes from chitin, found naturally in the bark of seafood. It is hoped that it can perform the same function of existing artificial polymers in personal and home care products. The researchers have completed a millionaire research project over two years with industrial partners Croda, Almac Group and Seagarden; and they have great expectations. “We have reached the stage where we develop a new polymer which is now being tested in personal care formulations and home,” said Professor Pete Williams.
What is chitosan?
“Chitosan is a material made by treating crustacean shells with sodium hydroxide and has been studied for a long time. Now, they developed a method to change it, to give it improved properties.
The shrimp shells would normally be disposed of as waste. So, ultimately, the objective of the project is to make the production of personal and home care products much more sustainable”, he added.