Over 7 million tons of shells are thrown into landfills by the fishing industry every year. The shells are not biodegradable and have a very high disposal cost which damages the environment and restaurateurs. What to do?
An innovative materials laboratory (all female) called Newtab-22 has created Sea Stone, a natural product obtained from shell waste recovered from the fish and aquaculture industries. It is a sustainable alternative to using the concrete (a major carbon emitter) in making smaller products.
From shells to houses
Sea Stone is made by grinding shells of shells destined for landfills before combining them with natural, non-toxic binders. The goal is to make it a sustainable alternative for making small-scale products, as the two materials share similar properties.
After all, shells are rich in calcium carbonate also known as limestone. And limestone is used to make cement, a key ingredient in concrete.
The process involves grinding the shells and mixing them with natural binders: the shells are then added to a mold and allowed to solidify into concrete-like tiles. This method is currently done manually to avoid the use of heat, electricity and chemical treatments and to ensure that the process is as sustainable and cost-effective as possible. With a curious "side effect": results in variations in the size, textures and colors of the shell fragments and makes each piece of Sea Stone unique. You can achieve different textures by changing the number of shell shells, binders, or by adding colored dyes for aesthetics.
A wonderful alternative
Most shells end up in landfills or by the sea. Discarded shells accumulate near the beach for a long time, polluting the surrounding land in the long run. Sea Stone proposes the use of discarded shells to create environmentally and economically sustainable material, ”he explainedNewtab-22
Newtab-22 pioneered a number of natural binders in the development of Sea Stone, including sugar and agar. It now relies on two undisclosed and patent pending sources. The material is currently under development for commercial purposes and has so far been used to make products such as decorative tiles, table tops, plinths and vases.
Why is Sea Stone less strong than concrete?
Good question, to which it is right to answer clearly. Although the properties of concrete and Sea Stone are similar, an energy-intensive heating process would be required to truly replicate the strength of traditional concrete required in large-scale projects such as buildings. This would be comparable to the method used to produce cement, which accounts for half of all CO2 emissions resulting from the use of concrete.
In summary? Using shells to produce a "cement" capable of building large structures would almost pollute like concrete. “The power of the material is different, we don't want to damage the environment in the process or the result,” he says Hyein Choi, co-founder of the firm.