In Finland, a consortium has created a new fiber from crab shells and seaweed. Researchers from Aalto University, the University of São Paulo and the University of British Columbia used chitin nanoparticle waste from blue crab shells and alginate to create yarn that is strong and antimicrobial.
The group tweaked concentrations of each material as well as other variables to create threads with different properties. “The designed material took advantage of the strong interaction between the components, which are oppositely charged. We found that when a solution of alginate contacts a suspension of chitin nanofibers, the alginate wraps around the chitin nanoparticles, forming fibrils that align in parallel as the thread is drawn upward,” says Professor Orlando Rojas of Aalto University’s Biobased Colloids and Materials (BiCMat) program.
The material is suitable for biomedical applications. “This can be eventually made scalable by using simultaneous microfiber dry-drawing from the respective suspensions,” Rojas adds.