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December 20, 2015

United States

Tidal Visions’ Pilot Plant for Chitosan Production

 

In October 2015, Tidal Vision made the leap from its Juneau, Alaska, lab to a pilot plant near Seattle, Washington, to test an Earth-friendly method that extracts chitin, the structural element in the exoskeletons of insects, crabs, lobsters—and shrimp.  Its first big run was tested on a 30-ton batch of crab shells delivered by Trident Seafoods, a vertically integrated harvester, processor and marketer of seafood from Alaska.  “I am a strong believer in 100 percent utilization of our resources and working with Tidal Vision has been fantastic,” said Trident Seafoods CEO Joe Bundrant.

 

The end product is chitosan, a fibrous polysaccharide, which, among other things, can be woven into fabrics and textiles that have an array of commercial and biomedical uses.  It can fetch $10 to $30 [changed from $30,000] a pound depending on quality and usages, and up to $150 [changed from $150,000] a pound for pharmaceutical grades, said Craig Kasberg, former fisherman and now Tidal Vision’s executive officer.

 

Chitosan has been produced commercially in China and India since the late 1950s by using chemicals and waste methods that would never pass muster in the USA.

 

Kasberg said,  “We do not use harsh chemicals and we are able to recycle 89 percent of the chemicals we use.  The other 11 percent reacts with everything else in the crab shell—the calcium, protein and lipids—and produces a fertilizer that several agriculture companies are doing trials with.”

 

Tidal Vision expects to process 50,000 tons of crab shells its first year.  By 2021, it projects taking up to 100,000 tons of crab shells from Trident plants and other Bering Sea crab fisheries.  The small company’s goal is to build full-scale chitosan plants next to existing crab processing plants in Alaska, along with mobile plants for areas with smaller catches and shorter seasons.

 

Tidal Vison’s new clothing line, “Chitoskin”, has caught the attention of Grundens, the maker of waterproof clothing popular with fishermen.  By next summer, Alaska salmon fishermen may be wearing rain gear that won’t mold or smell.

 

Kasberg said the company also is developing and testing a chitosan filtration system for a British Columbia coal mining company.  “Chitosan reacts very quickly to toxins and bonds really fast.  Instead of filling man-made lakes with effluent that is acidic and full of heavy metals, they could instead be pumping out pure drinking water,” Kasberg said.

 

Also See: What is the Shrimp Processing Industry Doing with Its Surplus of Heads and Shells?

 

Information: Craig Kasberg, Tidal Vision, P.O. Box 20161, Juneau, Alaska 99802, USA (phone 1-907-321-9121, email craig@tidalvisionusa.com, webpage http://tidalvisionusa.com).

 

Sources: 1. Alaska Dispatch News.  Turning Alaska Crab Shells into a Business Fortune.  Laine Welch.  December 18, 2015.  2. Tidal Vision’s Webpage.  Website Visit on December 20, 2015.  3. Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, December 20, 2015.

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