Quite a bit actually. It may sound crazy, but it’s true!

A new project by Invotec Group, a European manufacturer of PCB boards, involves using the waste products from the seafood industry to recover metals from the effluent generated in PCB and related manufacturing processes. The UK’s seafood industry alone generates large volumes of shellfish waste including shells of crabs and other crustaceans. Their shells are usually expensive to dispose of, but are also a source of materials known as ‘chitosans’ which are known to absorb metals.

The project is aimed to change the crab shells into usable materials and will involve their mechanical and chemical conversion into a granular form with optimized absorption capabilities. The materials will be evaluated over a range of conditions to see how much copper they can absorb. Once saturated with copper, it will be extracted into a solution from which it can then be recovered as a metal by electroplating.

The goal is to use the materials produced from the crab shells in a similar manner to ion exchange resins, so that once the metal has been extracted, the chitosan materials can be reused.

Tim Tatton, Invotec Group’s Managing Director, commented:

“We have a strong commitment to meeting our environmental responsibilities, so we were delighted to have the opportunity to participate in a project which promises to offer not only environmental but also commercial benefits.”

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