The case studies are summarized below. The full details are given in the appendices.
Chitin is one of two kinds of polysaccharides common in nature, which are in fact among the most abundant organic materials in nature; the other is cellulose from plants. One species of plankton alone produces 100 billion tons of chitin per year. This supply, however, is extremely dispersed, and tends to deteriorate rapidly or to chelate with other substances, changing its makeup.
Historically, applications have included wastewater treatment, recovery of protein from egg wastes for animal feed, wound healing, crop protection (from fungi), glue, and color photography. The problem in higher end applications is consistency of the product owing to the variability of the feedstock and the chelating properties of chitin; every batch must be tested.
The virtual case study involved a firm that would extract raw chitin, raw protein, and raw lipids from shells, and prepare refined derivatives of these. The objective was to produce high grade, reliable, quality controlled product. The list of possible applications includes such higher end products as cosmetics, surgical sutures, contact lenses, cholesterol or fat reduction, and basal material for sustained drug release. The company would enter into partnership with the lobster processing plants on the Island, which would stabilize and store lobster and crab shells during the fishing season for continuous production year round. Another potential partner is the Food Technology Center, which would carry out the research necessary to select and refine the technology for the conversion of shell material to chitin and its derivatives and for the efficient manufacture of the expected byproducts, and would provide the sophisticated testing necessary to en-