Whether you like them scrambled, over easy, or hard boiled, they all have one thing in common: you need to crack the shell at some point to get to the good stuff!
Think of all the restaurants around the world and families who eat eggs every single day; whether it is the Egg McMuffin from McDonalds or a Breakfast Sandwhich from Tim Hortons, there are large scale egg breaking facilities who crack A LOT of eggs every day.
Did you know large-scale egg facilities produce 100, 000 tons of egg shell waste annually?
More often then not, egg shells are being sent to landfills.
Material Sciences PhD student at Trent University, Jayme Stabler, witnessed this first hand during her time spent in the Inorganic Research Lab on a collaborative project with an egg breaking facility.
She realized that egg shells are wasted potential!
She got crackin’ to find ways to recycle egg shells in a unique way!
Jayme’s research involves researching the eggshell membrane –otherwise known as the thin layer of film you see when you peel a hard boiled egg.
This thin layer prevents harmful bacteria and pathogens that could get inside the egg to contaminate it – it acts similar to our own human skin.
Jayme realized that the chemical composition of the membrane is also very similar to our own skin because they are made up of two noteworthy components (although the egg membrane is made up of many others):
- Hyaluronic acid
Interestingly, collagen and hydrauronic acid are used widely in the cosmetic industry (example: contact lenses and moisturizers) and biomedical industries (example: wound healing).
Collagen and hyaluronic acid are highly valuable materials in the industry – and Jayme has set out to separate collagen and hyaluronic acid from the membrane .
Her ultimate goals are to:
- Separate the 2 components from the membrane
- Apply the material to cosmetic and biomedical industries
- Ensure the process is scale-able
- Achieves high purity
- Retains the structure of each material
- Can be achieved with industrial recycling
Part of Jayme’s research is also assessing market value of the material to ensure that it can be financially viable and that there is a demand for it.
Her results have so far found that collagen and hyaluronic acid CAN be isolated from the eggshell membrane – but further sampling is still needed.
Jayme is an advocate for industrial recycling to ensure that what is classified as a waste stream can be turned into a revenue stream.
Recycling can create new products in the market and help divert waste from landfill.
Utilizing eggshells in this way can not only reduce waste, but also make money.
This is a great way to start thinking OUTSIDE OF THE BOX when it comes to environmental challenges.
Thank you Jayme for this research and for applying your knowledge to create innovative solutions! Here is what Jayme had to say about her experience at Trent.