Study on the “Glutamic Acid-Enzymolysis” Process for Extracting Chitin from Crab Shell Waste and its By-Product Recovery

  • Huipu Ding
  • Le Lv
  • Zhijiang WangEmail author
  • Liping LiuEmail author


Chitin is the second-most abundant bioresource and widely used in the food, agricultural, biomedicine, and other industries. However, under the mutual restriction of extraction cost and environmental protection, it is relatively difficult to prepare chitin from natural sources by pure separation. The aim of this study is to extract chitin from fresh crab shell waste by decalcification (DC) and deproteinization (DP) using glutamic acid and alkaline protease. The optimum technological conditions for DC and DP were as follows: (1) 5% (w/v) glutamic acid solution was used as decalcifying agent, the ratio of material to liquid was 1:10 (m/v), and the ash content in chitin was 0.83 ± 0.027% after decalcification at 75° C for 12 h. (2) Using alkaline protease as enzymatic hydrolyzer, 1500 U of alkaline protease was added per gram of crab shell. Under the conditions of material-liquid ratio of 1:10 (m/v) and pH value of hydrolysate of 9.0, N content in chitin was 6.63 ± 0.10% after 6 h of enzymatic hydrolysis at 55° C. And the extraction rate of chitin was 92.25 ± 0.51%. As a decalcifying agent, glutamic acid could be recycled with a recovery rate of 77.42 ± 2.16%. Calcium carbonate in crab shell was converted into calcium hydrogen phosphate by calcium glutamate, and protein into amino acids and polypeptides, which could be used as feed additives. The “glutamic acid-enzymolysis” for extracting chitin from crab shell is a relatively closed process, which has the advantages of mild reaction, greatly reducing the discharge of three wastes and high comprehensive utilization rate of raw materials.


Chitin Glutamic acid-enzymolysis method Decalcification process Deproteinization process Recovery and utilization 


Funding information

This work was supported by Zhejiang natural fund public welfare technology research program (LGN19C200009), Zhejiang province’s first-class discipline “bioengineering” open fund project (KF2019003), National college students innovation and entrepreneurship training program 2018 (Letter No.39[2018], 201810876005), Zhejiang province’s first-class discipline “bioengineering” student innovation program (CX2018024).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Biological & Environmental SciencesZhejiang Wanli UniversityNingboChina
  2. 2.Department of Pharmaceutical EngineeringZhejiang Pharmaceutical CollegeNingboChina

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