HISTORY OF CHITIN

Chitin and Chitosan are valuable veriatile natural materials derived from prawn- and crabshells. The word “Chitin“ is retrieved from the Greek etymology and means “A Coat Of Mail”. Odier was the first to use the product in 1823.

Henri_Braconnot

Chitin was first discovered in mushrooms by prof Henri Braconnot of France in 1811. The name chitin comes in 1830s, when it was isolated in insect. Chitosan was discovered in 1859 by prof C. Rouget. In 1930s and 1940s, the polymers attracts considerable attention as evidenced by about 50 patents. Lack of adequate manufacturing facilities and cutthroat competition from synthetic polymers restricted commercial development. Revived interest in the 1970s encouraged the need to better utilze shellfish shells. Chitin and chitosan is used in several countries worldwide in variety of applications, and today there are more than 2000 applications of chitin and its derivatives. (Global industry analysis since 2004)

Chitin

Chitin is the second most abundant natural biopolymer in the world, behind only cellulose. It is also the most abundant naturally occurring polysaccharide that contains amino sugars. This abundance, combined with the specific chemistry of chitin and its derivative chitosan, make for the array of potential applications.

Chitin occurs as a component of crustacean shells, insect exoskeletons, fungal cell walls and plankton, it is found in association with proteins and minerals such as calcium carbonate. The different sources of chitin differ somewhat in their structure and percentage of chitin content.

Prawn_101_62 Chitin_chart_449_207

Chitosan

Chitosan the unique natural biopolymer is commercially derived from chitin . Although typically manufactured by de-acetylating chitin trough chemical processes. Chitosan is also found in nature, for examples as a key component in fungal cell walls.

Chitosan_chain_450_100

Its chemical structure can most simply be described as a co-polymer of glucosamine and acetyl-glucosamine. As a natural cationic biopolymer in its dissolved form (ph<5,7), Chtitosan possesses a positive charge, giving rise to versatile uses based on tis chlating, anti-microbioal, gelling and film-forming properties. Chitosan consist of a family of products, differing in polymer length, chemical sequences and product purities.