The Shellworks
Sep 2019 - Present
Collaboration with Amir Afshar, Andrew Edwards, Edward Jones
The Shellworks are new manufacturing processes that turn seafood waste into biodegradable, recyclable bioplastic. A series of machines that extract, form and recycle the material, which we believe could be used as a replacement for various single-use plastics.
Inside crustacean shells there is a polymer called chitin, which is the equivalent of keratin in humans or cellulose in plants. In its deacetylised form, chitosan, you can leverage its properties to make a biodegradable plastic.
Add vinegar to chitosan and you get a golden bioplastic. Just how shells are both rigid and flexible, chitosan bioplastic can exhibit a variety of tensile properties based on the ratio of chitosan to vinegar.
Central to the project is the design of new manufacturing machines. These machines are designed as functional show-pieces, in order to engage people with the material, and demonstrate its potential.
A series of applications have been prototyped, each of which leverages a specific material quality. Self-fertilising plant pots are created by Dippy, while food-safe carrier bags are created by Sheety, and anti-bacterial blister packaging is produced by Vaccy.
The machines extract, form and recycle the material, which could be used to replace a significant amount of the single use plastic we use everyday.
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