Chitin is an important biopolymer that is converted to chitosan for use in many industries. The raw material from which chitin is extracted is typically shrimp/crab shells. Although chitin/chitosan is touted as a green material because it is recovered from waste crustacean shells, the global demand for it is rapidly increasing, whereas the farming or harvesting of crustaceans is environmentally unsustainable. There is thus, the opportunity to develop new processes for the production of chitosan from environmentally sustainable sources.
The company has conducted preliminary research on the extraction of chitin from a particular type of animal biomass, and conversion into chitosan via chemical methods. The method has been designed to recover other valuable biomaterials, in addition to chitosan. The research has proven to be feasible and the company is now searching for partners with expertise in chitosan production to scale up this process on a semi-industrial scale.
The technology partner should:
• Have the know-how in chitosan production, including its scale up and optimisation
• Have the necessary facilities for manufacturing test batches of chitosan from animal biomass
• Be able to characterise the produced chitosan according to industry standards, including but not limited to: purity, molecular weight distribution and viscosity, degree of deacetylation, ash/dry matter/heavy metals content, insolubility, protein content, total bacterial and mould count
• Preferably have experience in manufacturing low molecular weight chitosan