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November 21, 2014

United Kingdom

Another Use Found for Chitosan, Preserves Ancient Ships


Scientists have discovered that a polymer derived from shrimp shells could help preserve ancient ships and other wooden objects.  The polymer treatment is absorbed into wood, supporting the artifacts and protecting them from biological degradation.


The polyethylene glycol spray that’s normally used to treat artifacts can liquefy and degrade with humidity, so Zarah Walsh and her colleagues at the University of Cambridge developed a natural alternative with the polymer chitosan, which they gathered from leftover shrimp shells.  They combined the chitosan with derivatives from the guar plant and a host molecule to create the solution.


The shrimp-based solution will provides structural stability within damaged wood, and it could one day be a one-stop material for tackling the main issues conservators face when treating and drying historical objects.  The solution will need to be tested before it enters mainstream use by conservators, but it could help preserve archaeological finds for years to come.


Information: Zarah Walsh, University of Cambridge, Department of Chemistry, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1EW, United Kingdom (phone +44-0-1223-336300, email, webpage


Source: The Week.  Shrimp: the Key to Preserving Ancient Artifacts.  Meghan DeMaria.  November 19, 2014.

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