The Science Behind Cuantec

Green Chemistry:

CuanTec has developed new processes and new materials from marine and aquaculture waste in order to create value-added products with market advantages, that bring cost savings and environmental benefits to many areas.

Langoustines from the clear waters of the North Atlantic are a great source of chitin, which CuanTec extract through biological fermentation rather than using traditional chemical means. The chitin is then transformed into the more soluble product chitosan which can be used in many applications where its natural anti-microbial properties can be exploited.

CuanTec are the first company to achieve biological extraction of chitin from shell at an industrial scale and this gentle process provides high quality chitin and chitosan which exhibits high efficacy against a wide range of food spoilage bacteria and pathogens responsible in food spoilage.

Using our chitosan increases the shelf life of packaged food.

Chemical process = History

  • The standard chemical process to produce chitosan uses large volumes of harmful chemicals: Concentrated acid and alkali treatments to demineralise and deproteinise the shells  
  • It creates substantial waste materials and uses a lot of energy
  • Typically, molecular chain length is difficult to control and gives a high polydispersity index
  • Physical stability and chemical purity can be compromised, e.g. oxidation of chains giving a characteristic yellow colour

Biological process = The Future

  • Our low energy process is much more environmentally friendly than traditional Chemistry methods.
  • It is uses 5 times less sodium hydroxide to produce chitosan than the chemical process, and we are not using hydrochloric acid, and gives a higher yield
  • Biology is the new chemistry – fermentable carbohydrates produce acids which react with calcium carbonate to produce valuable salts. Enzymes hydrolyse the proteins to produce a high value protein liquor

CuanTec's Process

Cuantec's chitosan extraction process

Our process provides a high-quality product with a low polydispersity index and a high viscosity which is indicative of high molecular weight chains.

CuanTec is currently completing the development of a totally biological method to produce Chitosan, replacing sodium Hydroxide from its process by harmless bacteria.

Our process is a zero-waste process, only useful by-products are obtained, it uses only harmless bacteria and no harsh chemicals.

The first product developed with our chitosan is an anti-microbial, compostable food contact material (FCM) packaging which reduces spoilage and prolongs shelf-life of fresh food. Initially this will be aimed at the seafood sector as a perfect example of circular economy

CuanTec's technology and processes creates exceedingly high quality odourless chitosan through a very gentle process. This provides a perfectly clear film, without yellow tinge that previously has discouraged the use of chitosan in FCM products.

CuanTec's films have anti-microbial action against all of the main pathogens and food spoilage organisms including E.coli, Salmonella, Vibrio, Listeria and lactic acid bacteria, yeasts and moulds.