PENANG, 7 June 2012 - By adopting the concept of converting waste into gold, a group of researchers from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) have created an oil adsorbent substance from prawn shells to treat wastewater.
The head of the research group, Dr. Suzylawati Ismail said that the product known as Chi-Sorb can be used as an alternative substance in wastewater treatment compared against the normal method using chemical substance which harms the environment.
Suzy said that the adsorbent made from prawn shells has three major functions; it adsorbs oil, coagulate and agglomerate residues, hence making the waste water treatment process easier and more effective.
She added that this product is deemed to be very effective in removing oil waste and it is also a natural adsorbent that is free from heavy metals, non-toxic, no side effects, easy to dispose and environmental friendly.
“The prawn shells are converted into valuable material after going through a series of treatment processes including deproteinisation, demineralisation and deacetylisation before it is used to process and treat wastewater.
“Usually, waste water treatment method uses agglomerate formulated metal such as alum and PAC but both these materials create issues in terms of health and their impact on humans if used excessively and uncontrolled,'' she said.
She added that the metal residues that remain in the treated water, especially aluminium may contribute to Alzheimer's disease and neurological disorders such as pre-dementia.
“We took into consideration the weaknesses of the existing non-environmental friendly products and came up with a unique innovation that is much safer and can be produced easily by using waste that is found in this country,'' she said.
The research product, which has won gold medal in several international competitions, was developed together with two other researchers, Prof. Dr. Abdul Latif Ahmad and Dr. Sumathi Sethupati.