Carbon sequestration technology is still in its infancy so it stands to reason that researchers are pursuing any number of odd and unusual avenues, and among these the eggshell thing has to be among the oddest. Researchers at the University of Calcutta have found that eggshell membranes can absorb almost seven times their weight in carbon dioxide, making them an ideal sponge to soak up excess quantities of this greenhouse gas.
Eggshells and Membranes
Anyone who has ever cracked an egg can discern the thin membrane that clings to the inside of an eggshell. To make any kind of dent in global carbon dioxide emissions, there would have to be a highly efficient method of separating the membrane from the shell. The Calcutta team found that a weak acid can do the trick, but that would be impracticable on a commercial scale. A mechanical method would be preferable. It’s possible that the egg farmer of the future will be able to market egg membranes as a value-added byproduct, much as biogas technology has provided the livestock industry with a means of producing marketable fertilizer.
Expose Your Eggshells
Lead researcher Basab Chaudhuri suggests that until eggshell membrane salvage is commercially viable, it might help if we all just let our eggshells air out a bit after emptying their contents. That’s not as far-fetched as it may seem. There’s a lot of eggs cycling through the world these days. India consumes about 1.6 million tonnes (that’s a metric ton, or 2,305 pounds) of eggs annually all by itself, and some nations are encouraging a sharp increase in egg consumption, South Africa being one example. The U.S. is no slouch either – for example about half a billion eggs were recalled in a salmonella outbreak last summer, barely causing a ripple in the market. Global egg consumption is expected to reach about 1,154 billion eggs by 2015.
Image: Eggshells by dfinnecy on flickr.com.
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