Developing a Biological Approach for Chitin Extraction from Homarus americanus Shell Waste
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Lobster processing generates ~0.3M tons of shell wastes each year in Canada, which are rich in chitin, proteins, and minerals, making them valuable substrate. Among them, chitin, a natural biopolymer, has various applications in agriculture and, food. The current study focused on investigating the key parameters that impact the efficiency of fermentative extraction of chitin from American lobster shells. The optimal fermentation conditions in 250mL flasks were obtained with a combination of 5%w/v shell with a particle-size of 500µm-250µm, 10%w/v lactose with 3%w/v whey and 1%w/v inoculum, rest being water, showing an effective demineralization of 83.91±1.11%. This was further improved to 89.83% by staggered addition of carbon source and inoculum, with 88.87% decalcification and crude chitin yield of 28%. The bench scale fermentation was found to be reproducible up to 5L. The study strongly suggests optimizing parameters for biological extraction of chitin could yield a chitin product of commercial value.