Chitin is the second most abundant biopolymer in the world. Chitosan is obtained by deacetylation of chitin. Both have numerous applications, some are similar, other specific to the compnent. See some examples:

 

Chitin and Chitosan applications

Agriculture

Chitin and chitosan can be use in agriculture on various domains, from fertilizer to pestiscide.
- Pesticide: Chitin help the plant to naturally defends itself against various pests, such as fungus, bacteria, insect
- Fertilizer: Thanks to the nitrogen from its amino group
- Growth regulator

Food

Even though they are still studied, Chitin and chitosan can be of a great use in the food industry, here are some examples:
- Edible film industry: to control the moisture transfer from the environment to the food
- Additive: as a natural flavour extender, or for some research, to reduce cholesterol 

 

Water Treatments

As a clarifier and a water filtering aid. Both Chitin and chitosan both bond easily with metals and micro contaminants under water, while being non-allergenic, non toxic and biodegradable, making the water clearer. It is usable in areas like lakes, since they are totally natural, making them a viable alternatives to chemicals water treatments. 

 

Medical

They are great for the creation of Scaffold in tissue engineering because of: their high porosity, biodegradability, non toxicity, and high biocompatibility.
They are great for wound healing, thanks to their blood blotting ability and antimicrobial activities.

 

Chitin

 

Comestics

Chitin is used in cosmetic because of its hypoallergenic caracteristic, making it highly tolerent.
It is used as a moisturising agent for two reasons:
- it supplies water
- retain water, avoiding dehydration
It is used in hairpsray: to increase stiffness, make curls last longer...

Sutures

Chitin can be used as absordable surgical suture to replacesynthetic polymer currently having a monopoly on the area.

 

 

 

Chitosan

 

Fish industry

Giving chitosan as a diet supplement will reduce the weaning stress as well as preventing bacteria such as E.coli to prolifer,  while helping the proliferation of enterocytes, which is good for preventing  instestinal atrophy.
Chitosan will also help fish gain weight.

Chitosan Dip

Currently to prevent spoilage, while on the boat, fisherman dip shellfish in metabisulphites solution.
With chitosan, you can have the same results, if not better while using a hypoallergenic alternative to metabisulphites.

Food packaging

Bioplastic contact food material, containing chitosan, which give a food packaging compostable and antimicrobial, extending the shelf life of food, without creating plastic pollution

Those examples are only a small portion of what Chitin and Chitosan can do. These biopolymers are under used, researches are still being done, to explore different applications.

To go further and learn about chitin and chitosan history go here.

Ever wonder when Chitin and Chitosan were discovered? Well here is your answer, watch this video on the history of chitosan and you will even know its future!

 

Exactly a year ago, we opened CuanTec lab and began our journey from idea to products.

In a year we have gone from an empty lab in MediCity, composed of two rooms with no equipment, and a team of 3 to a fully equipped large lab in BioCity, and an additional lab at the European Marine Sciences Centre at Oban and 7 employees… All the equipment and brain power needed to create our innovations.

What a year it has been!!

First, we created our first chitosan, at small scale chemically from langoustine, in order to have an idea of the yield that is possible and then we then jumped on the biological work, trying several bacteria, several processes to find the perfect fermentation to extract chitin from langoustines.

We welcomed Kasia end of February, our super analytical chemist, which helped us understand how to improve our chitin and chitosan, thanks to her protein analysis, minerals content, etc.to understand the characterisation of the chitosan we could obtain. This work makes sure that we know we are removing the allergenic proteins from our products at the earliest stage to the greatest possible levels. (currently less than 5ppm for all proteins)

Simultaneously we began working on our bioplastic formulation.

And people have begun to get to know about what we are doing from radio, newspaper and industry journal articles  

In Spring we found a process that was working enough for us to begin to work on the Chitin to transform it in chitosan sustainably. We did fermentation after fermentation, to improve our working process and build up a stock of material.

In June we were chosen among 240 contestants to win the Scottish Edge (link) HIGGS Category. This has given us £150k to spend on improving our methods, expanding our team and creating our food packaging faster.

In the summer we began to test our plastic formulations on standard industrial equipment, and to learn how the ingredient combinations affect the properties of the bioplastic. We have then been able to develop new formulations to focus on the clarity, flexibility and durability properties we want.  

In October we opened a second lab in Oban, where we welcomed Tracy White our head of microbiology, and we have expanded the BioCity team to include Sarah Connelly who first worked with us on her Master’s thesis.

Now  we are scaling up our fermentation process, to make it industrially efficient. We are improving our plastic formulation to make it industry acceptable. We are testing the antimicrobial activity of both our chitosan and our bioplastic on various food bacteria to assess its efficiency. We are recruiting partners for our consortium to take our process designed for chitin extraction from langoustine and adapt it for other chitin containing substances – crustaceous, fungal and insect.

 

2017was a great year for CuanTec, lot has happened, and lots have yet to come.