Textile fibers made of shellfish


From carapace to fiber…

The crab shell is composed of chitin, protein and calcium. The first step is to isolate the chitin molecules by destroying the proteins with soda and calcium with hydrochloric acid. 

Once the chitin is in powder form, the chitin is spun by viscose process and then mixed with cellulose viscose in a variable proportion (1 to 99%).

The properties of this fiber

This fiber has many very interesting properties, especially in the medical field.It is bacteriostatic and fungicidal (inherent to chitin) and promotes healing.

In addition, it is a fiber that has a good moisture absorption power, which makes it a pleasant and comfortable fiber for use in clothing. Finally, it is also known to be an allergic, and therefore perfectly adapted to use in contact with the skin, from childhood. 


Currently and in view of its properties, fiber combines uses in clothing and medical with a double cap. It is used for example in the manufacture of tights and socks for diabetics or people suffering from diseases such as arthritis, wounds and dermatitis. 

Being also biodegradable, in addition to being anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and promoting healing, the fiber is the ideal component of suture threads in surgery.

It is also found in underwear and bodysuits, mainly for children, and even more for those suffering from eczema or skin fragility.

Fiber can also be used for sports or work wear, towels, and more. 

And in terms of sustainable development… What’s the result?

One of the many advantages of fiber is the use of waste, which is present in large numbers. Annual production of chitin (the molecule extracted from crab and shrimp shells with concentrations between 8% and 33%) is estimated at approximately 100 million tonnes. 

In addition, the anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties are present naturally, and replace possible post-treatments intended to bring them, especially for applications in medical textiles. 

It should also be noted that these fibers are biodegradable, thus resolving the concerns related to the end of life of the products. 

The main disadvantage of this fiber is the implementation which for the moment remains the viscose process and therefore is consumer of chemicals

– « Les fibres techniques : un tissu de promesses », Sylvie Francisco, 6 septembre 2013, available on : http://leparticulier.lefigaro.fr/jcms/p1_1542454/les-fibres-techniques-un-tissu-de-promesses

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