Chitosan: A multi utility chemical

There are many chemical products which find use in different unconnected areas. For example Carboxy Methyl Cellulose (CMC) which is used in ice creams as well as viscosifier in drilling fluids. Similarly Linseed oils are used in Drilling fluids as well as ice cream. In this article we are talking of another multiutility chemical which has found uses in diverse fields. It is a versatile chemical and called Chitosan.

It is derived from Chitin which is obtained from the shells of prawns. Many groups of amide are reduced selectively to amine groups to tailor made the required chemical.

Application of Chitosan in Oil Fields :

As the demand for hydrocarbons knows no limits, technologies have been developed to reach at the places in the reservoir where earlier it was not possible to reach. Technologies have made the horizontal penetration of the producing formations to expose large area to production. These are called drain-holes. Thrust is also nowadays on exploiting oil shales, coal bed methane and the latest hot cake is the methane trapped as hydrates in the frozen water.

Production stimulation with acids is done. Acid is diverted to the zones of interest by plugging off the zones of no interest with polymers. One such chemical which is used to make the thick gel to divert the acids is called Chitosan.

Conversion of chitin to chitosan

This chemical has the beauty of yielding a very thick gel in water in acidic conditions and loses all the viscosity when the mixture is made alkaline.

Bandages of Chitosan

I read another wonderful use of this chemical. It is being used to make the bandages for the wounded personnel in the battleground. Most of deaths occur due to excessive bleeding. Chitosan has the quality to clotting the blood very fast. Secondly it is a strong antibacterial agent. This is also very much desired to ward off the infections in the unhygienic conditions prevailing in the battleground.

These bandages were used in Iraq for the first time. I wonder how many uses a chemical can have. In the sixth episode of “Brave New World” hosted by the great mathematician Stephan Hawking, the use of this chemical to clot the blood immediately was shown. You can watch this video of its bandaging properties.

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