Shrimp and egg shells can remove oil spills
The science department’s Industrial Technology Development Institute is studying the use of shrimp shells and egg shells as an organic way of removing oil spills.
Scientists led by Emelda Ongo said her team has developed chitosan made from shells of shrimps and calcium carbonate from egg shells to remove petroleum spills from water.
Chitosan has long been used as a biopesticide and its other uses for medical and industrial purposes have been studied.
Ongo said the ITDI team chose shrimp shells and egg shells because they are waste materials that can be re-used, are cheap, and widely available.
She said chitosan from shrimp shells has film-forming ability while surface roughness in calcium carbonate make them excellent materials.
She said her team was able to show that a 50:50 ratio of chitosan and calcium carbonate in flakes and granular forms works.
“Simply, we wanted to develop a material that has a strong affinity for oils rather than water.”
She said the material scored a removal rate of 99.9 percent in the oil and grease test.
Not content, the team also conducted a Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) analysis.
Oil spills float on water and prevent sunlight from passing through it, making it difficult for plants and sea animals to survive.
A coating of oil can kill seabirds, mammals, shellfish, and other organisms because it penetrates feathers and fur and break down insulating capability. This makes the animals vulnerable to temperature fluctuations, and most die from hypothermia.
Oil that is washed into coastal marshes, mangroves and other wetlands also coats rocks and sands, making the area unsuitable as plant and animal habitats. Those that sink into the mangrove environment can damage fragile underwater ecosystem, killing fishes and fish eggs, among others.