Mining activities all over the world leave landscapes devastated and polluted and remediation of the affected areas usually is costly beyond the mining company's financial possibilities. A crucial problem is the purification of mine waters which contain heavy metals and sulfuric acid making life in it impossible. A common remedy is the use of limestone which mitigates the acidity level of the water, but this mineral has to be mined itself and cannot bind the heavy metals.
A high school student from Indiana (USA) was so concerned about this issue that he dedicated years of research to finding a solution. Despite his young age and lack of scientific experience, Tyler Barnes finally found out that chitosan, a biopolymer derivated from crab shells, can balance the pH of mine water and at the same time bind copper and iron. Now, being accepted as an university student in biochemistry, Tyler pursues his goal to implement this knowledge in mine remediation at large scale.
Crab shells can be obtained from the seafood industry, thus a new business cluster with additional cashflows could emerge, converting waste into a new resource and following the logic of the Blue Economy.