Novel uses for eggshells
How many times a week do you have eggs for breakfast? I’m guessing three to four times. If your answer is yes, close your eyes and think about what you discard from the egg once you are done cooking. Shells, right? After all, that’s waste! However, the humble eggshell and the shell membrane – the thin paperish sheet on the inner part of the eggshell- has a large number of surprising uses. Here’s a short list of five:
1. Cleaning water
Elimination of dyes from factory wastes. Eggshells and shell membrane are excellent surfaces for adsorption. They can take up chlorophenol dyes from effluents generated by the textile industry and literally ‘clean-up’ water.
2. Relieving pain
Natural Eggshell membrane, consumed as a dietary supplement, can provide relief from joint pain in osteoarthritic patients. Data from one clinical trial has provided evidence to support this claim. If it is validated by several other trials, it wil be child’s play to tear the membrane off the shell and add it to your omelette.
3. Making biodiesel
Calcined eggshells are more efficient catalysts for the synthesis of biodiesel than sodium or potassium hydroxide. Separation of the latter from synthesized biodiesel is difficult and these are corrosive and toxic materials.
4. Restoring teeth
Eggshells can be used to manufacture Wollastonite. Let’s say it again- Wo-lla-sto-nite! Now, why is that interesting? Wollastonite can be used in the synthesis of ceramics, paints and special cements as well as for bioactive materials like bone substitutes and dental roots. So, in all likelihood, you might get your teeth restored with cements or dental prosthetics made from eggshells.
5. Reconstructing bones
Eggshell proteins can be combined with bone ash and gelatin. The resultant complex compound, after purification and characterization, can be used as a filler in non-weight bearing bone grafts during maxillofacial and spinal reconstructive surgeries.
Think about that the next time you chuck eggshells!
Baláž M (2014). Eggshell membrane biomaterial as a platform for applications in materials science. Acta biomaterialia, 10 (9), 3827-3843 PMID: 24681370
Guru PS, & Dash S (2014). Sorption on eggshell waste–a review on ultrastructure, biomineralization and other applications. Advances in colloid and interface science, 209, 49-67 PMID: 24456801
Ruff KJ, Winkler A, Jackson RW, DeVore DP, & Ritz BW (2009). Eggshell membrane in the treatment of pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study. Clinical rheumatology, 28 (8), 907-14 PMID: 19340512
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