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Project

Waste-Based Nanofillers

Cellulose nanofillers from banana plant and almond waste

Cellulose, the most common organic substance in nature, is the main structural component that confers strength and stability to the plant cell walls. It is found in the cell walls as a network of microfibrils (also called nanofibres) embedded in a non-cellulosic matrix. Banana plant farming is one of the main agro-industries in Colombia. This activity generates a considerable amount of fibrous residues called “rachis”. This residue is the bunch axis of the plant that is cut during harvesting and usually left in the soil plantation.

The vascular bundles of this material have received attention as new reinforcing agents in the elaboration of composite materials or for the isolation of cellulose microfibrils.

The almond shell waste is used to produce energy from combustion. Considering that almond shell waste contains a very high percentage of cellulose ranging from 30 to 50%, extraction of cellulose nanofillers from almond shell wastes to obtain high added value cellulose nanofibres, might contribute to further revalorization of this product.

 

Chitin nanofillers from crustacean shell wastes

Chitin is the most abundant natural amino-polysaccharide, estimated to be produced annually almost as much as cellulose, with two main sources of crustacean shell wastes: shrimp and crabs.

Chitin is a naturally abundant mucopolysaccharide, and the supporting material of crustaceans, insects, etc., consists of polymeric 2-2-acetamido-2-deoxy-b-D-glucose through a b(1-4) linkage. It is biosynthesised by a large number of living organisms. It is easily obtained from crab or shrimp shells, and its production is associated with food industries such as shrimp canning.

The exocuticle and endocuticle layers of the shells are designed to resist mechanical loads, and they consist of a hard fibrous chitin-protein tissue containing calcium carbonate minerals (mostly crystalline, sometimes amorphous). Both layers present a twisted plywood structure, characteristic of cuticle.

The presence of microfibrils suggests that chitin has characteristics which make it a good candidate for the development of nanocomposites. The application of chitin and its derivatives in packaging is a matter of interest in the present.

Eclipse Project - a) Banana plant rachis pointed b) Harvested rachis

Eclipse Project -Diagram of hierarchical constitution of banana plant rachis

Eclipse Project -Hierarchical structure of exoskeleton of lobster