What are typical applications of chitosans?
The range of potential applications for chitosans is enormous, in material, food, and life sciences. However, the development of chitosan-based products and their successful introduction into the markets has been slow. There are different reasons for these problems. In the case of applications that are based on the material, physico-chemical properties of chitosans, such as drinking water clarification or waste water treatment, the main problem is the rather high price of chitosan when compared to oil-based alternatives. This situation may soon change with the dwindling oil resources. But another problem for some of these applications is the enormous amount of chitosan that would be required for its successful introduction into the market, but chitin and chitosan production capacities are limited, in spite of the huge natural abundance of chitin. In the case of applications that are based on the biological functionalities of chitosans, such as anti-microbial, plant strengthening, and wound healing activities, the problem had been lacking reproducibility of these bioactivities, but this situation is changing now with the availability of better defined, narrow range 'second generation' chitosans. These chitosans are now beginning to penetrate the market, e.g. as plant strengtheners or blood coagulating wound dressings.