A water-activated heat pack developed from oyster shells is expected to generate at least NT$10.35 million (US$357,155) annually for the industry, the Fisheries Research Institute said on Monday.
The flameless cooker is made from oyster shells, so it is more environmentally friendly and safer than chemical-based alternatives, and production costs could fall 20 percent, the institute said.
It can be used for a variety of foods, allowing firms to customize instant meal sets, it added.
Photo: Chien Hui-ju, Taipei Times
Taiwan discards about 169,000 tonnes of oyster shells per year, with about 42 percent used for animal feed, 21 percent for fertilizer and 11 percent for seed cultivation, institute assistant researcher Yeh Nien-tzu (葉念慈) said.
As these uses do not provide much “added value,” many tonnes of shells are left to pile up in ocean breeding pools, Yeh said.
The institute in 2018 began introducing ways to better utilize the shells in the hope of advancing a circular economy, she added.
Researchers found a way to transform the calcium carbonate in the shells into calcium oxide on contact with water, emitting heat in the process, Yeh said.
In six to seven minutes, a packet heats water to 90°C, which in turn heats an ingredient packet in an upper tray to about 50°C for 20 minutes, the institute said.
The institute spent a year developing the flameless cooker, then paired it with a mixed seafood packet it developed to create an instant meal set that seafood producers can easily adjust to their needs, Yeh said, adding that the institute is applying for a patent.
Each packet costs NT$12.7 to produce, NT$2.3 cheaper than other self-heating packets, the institute said.
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