USE OF THE BLACK SOLDIER FLY (HERMETIA ILLUCENS L.) AS AN ALTERNATIVE SOURCE OF CHITOSAN FOR THE PRODUCTION OF BIOPOLYMERIC COATINGS FOR PRESERVATION OF SEAFOOD PRODUCTS
The project aims to set up the rearing of the bioconverter dipteran Hermetia illucens L. (the black soldier fly) on an industrial scale in order to produce chitosan-based coatings to enhance shelf life and preserve quality of seafood products.
Currently, the main commercial source of chitin and chitosan are waste of the fishing industry, chiefly crustaceans’ shells, such as shrimps, crabs and lobsters’ shells, which are mainly bought from the Asian market. H. illucens, which is an efficient bioconverter of organic wastes, could be a valid alternative to crustaceans as a source of chitin and chitosan. H. illucens larvae feed on various decaying organic material such as fruit and vegetable waste, as well as human and animal manure, and they are able to consume it in large quantities, quickly and efficiently. By using this fly, organic wastes can be converted in products of high biological value, in the view of the environmental sustainability and the zero-waste circular economy.
- Preservation of seafood products;
- Organic and biodegradable production;
- Attention to the environment;
- Valid alternative to plastic, in order to be more “plastic free”.
Stage of development
Massive rearing of H. illucens was already set up and optimized. Larvae are reared on different organic substrates from the agri-food industry. Pupal exuviae and dead adults are periodically collected and use to extract chitosan. Currently, the chitosan extraction process is being optimized in order to obtain a chitosan with the best characteristics for our purpose.
Challenge and needs
- Preserve the final product;
- Have a valid alternative to the actual packaging;
- Use packaging compatible with environment.
The technology is not yet protected by a patent.
Potential markets and targets
- agri-food industries which process seafood products;
- packaging industries which are interested in developing new type of coatings;
- small fish farmers which process the caught fish in situ before selling.
Potential partners of the present project could be agri-food industries which process seafood products and are interested in developing new type of biocompatible coatings in the view of environmental sustainability.