Seeding Food Innovation - Awarded Project 2018

Optimization of an environmentally friendly process for shrimp chitin extraction

Project Description

Demineralization of shrimp shells in 600 L tank

Up to 70% of the shellfish landed in Newfoundland and Labrador every year is discarded as waste. This ‘waste’ contains several valuable compounds including Chitin in the shrimp shells. Chitin and its derivative Chitosan are a highly valuable natural polymers with many applications in the medical and nutraceutical fields as well as in wastewater treatment and cosmetics. If Chitin was recovered from shell waste, the economic return of the shrimp fishery could be more than doubled.

The Centre for Aquaculture and Seafood Development (CASD) of the Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland has developed a mechanical-chemo-enzymatic process for the extraction of Chitin from Northern Shrimp (Pandalus Borealis). Shrimp shells consist of approximately 20% chitin and during extraction, the other components, mainly protein and calcium carbonate are removed in a multiple-step process. The process developed by CASD uses mechanical methods for preliminary reduction of protein and ash content, followed by gentle enzymatic and chemical steps to produce pure Chitin. Compared to the traditional chemical process used in most commercial plants, the chemical consumption has been reduced by over 80%.

Relevance to the field of food innovation

For the current project, the CASD has partnered with Quin- Sea Fisheries Ltd. to finalize process optimization and bring the process towards implementation in industry partner’s processing plant in Eastern Newfoundland. The proposed project will evaluate and validate processing technologies that use a combination of physical, chemical and enzymatic hydrolysis to produce chitin on pilot scale from shrimp shell waste followed by estimation and characterization of waste produced at the various extraction steps. The project intention is to validate our previous data and attain intermediate and pre-commercial scale data on chitin production, waste generated during chitin production and technical and economical evaluation of the technology and products (chitin and protein)

Anticipated outcome

If successful, the project will address a number of the negative issues associated with the shellfish industry, including waste management and environmental sustainability by utilizing the discarded shrimp shell (up to 70% of the animal) to produce high-value products like chitin and protein extract and the wild shrimp waste resources will become significantly more sustainable and add organic, nutritional ingredients to the food market. It will push towards a long-term ban on at-sea dumping permits for shellfish waste disposal, as shrimp processors will have potential to obtain relevant incentive by implementing waste-management strategy and enhance value chain optimization.


Dr. Deepika Dave

Dr. Dave, Research Scientist in the Centre for Aquaculture and Seafood Development, in the Marine Institute in Memorial University of Newfoundland, will be principal investigator and scientific lead in the development of the environmentally friendly chitin extraction process. With 18 years of R&D experience in the areas » More Info

Ms. Julia Pohling

Ms. Pohling, Marine Biotechnologist in the Marine Institute (since 2012), works primarily on industrial process optimization, pilot-scale process design, and research on waste management and by-product utilization. From 2012-2014, she led the optimization and pilot scale on the development of the CASD Chitin » More Info

Ms. Sheila Trenholm

Ms. Trenholm, Laboratory Technologist in the Marine Institute (since 2013), is responsible for performing research activities and analytical services in the fields of by-products utilization, seafood product development and quality monitoring. Since 2013, she has played a key role in several chitin projects and has been » More Info

Mr. Wade Murphy

Mr. Murphy is a Facility Supervisor in the Marine Institute (since 1990). Mr. Murphy leads the procurement, modification and installation of processing equipment. He has worked on a variety of chitin extraction projects since the 90’s and has played an integral role in the process development during 2012-2014. He is familiar » More Info

Mr. Simon Jarding

Mr. Jarding is Managing Director of Quin Sea Fisheries and lead contact for the shrimp processing plant in Old Perlican, NL and will work closely with the research team throughout the project. He will provide access to the plant, and provide raw material, wastewater. He will also oversee the market price analysis and » More Info

Dr. Kelly Hawboldt

Dr. Hawboldt is Professor and Chemical Engineer, Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and specializes in the sustainable green processing and extraction of natural resources, from forestry residues to offshore oil and gas to the food industry. She will provide expert advice on » More Info

Dr. Lordwin Jeyakumar

Dr. Jeyakumar is a Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, St. John’s, and specializes in the area of water and wastewater treatment; water quality, environmental sampling and pollutant analysis. He will provide expert advice on characterization, treatment and reuse of wastewater generated from » More Info