Fish plastic and canal clearing

Two unrelated sources this morning turn into a single blog article.  Ah, the wonders of imagination . . .

First, Old Salt Blog brings us the news that an engineering graduate in England has won the James Dyson Award for inventing a biodegradable plastic made from fish waste.  You can read more about it at the link.

This is some very useful research.  I don’t know how many of my readers have walked past a fish processing plant, and been assailed by the stench of rotting fish waste products.  It’s . . . impressive . . . not to mention probably reportable as a biological weapon under various international laws!  If Ms. Hughes’ research can make productive use of that waste, and remove its olfactory pollution, to produce something new that also solves another, far more serious pollution problem, then full marks to her.  I hope this gets taken further by industry.

The second source is Nourishing Obscurity, which brings us this video clip of what looks like an old barge tug clearing ice from an urban canal in the Netherlands.  I’ve traveled along some of those canals in summer, and enjoyed the experience – but I’d rather avoid them when they’re frozen solid.  Let’s hear it for global warming!

Those canals are used daily by both leisure and commercial/industrial traffic, as this next video shows. I’ve been aboard a vessel about that size as it went through several Dutch towns. I found it nerve-wracking to be that close to the shore – I kept expecting to hear a grinding, tearing noise! – but the helmsman didn’t even blink. He was used to it.

Hmmm . . . if you wrapped the ships in biodegradable plastic made from fish waste, would they slide more smoothly over and/or through the water and/or ice?  And could it serve instead of fenders, to keep the ships from hitting the shore?  Now that would be some fun research!  Fishy bubble wrap, perhaps?



  1. There are some small-ship handlers who have lined their shore-side of the boat, whether port or starboard, with sheets of heavy UHMW, because they've found that it's easier and cheaper to replace the plastic appliques than replace the whole side of the boat.

    Now making UHMW from fish? Dunno if that would work.

  2. I sincerely hope that fish-derived wrappers are required to be very prominently marked if used to pack food. There are plenty of people allergic to fish; I'm one of them, and I don't want my food contaminated.

  3. If that wrap actually contains the seafood allergen (it's an enzyme, IIRC), it may be severely restricted in use. The allergy specialist cautioned me to avoid being near seafood being cooked, as it can travel in the heated air from cooking. Contained in muscle tissue of nearly everything that lives in the oceans. Not as hazardous as a shellfish allergy, though.

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