Stepping outside of the normal discussion of insects in food and feed, today, I want to highlight an area of BSF research that is gaining attention, with applications in many industries (e.g., healthcare, water treatment, agrochemicals, textiles, beauty, and food processing) [1-4], and a market expected to grow considerably in the next decade –chitin.
Unfortunately, chitin, in general, is an overlooked and underutilized by-product of BSF mass-production. It is something that all mass-rearing facilities produce but few exploit. One reason may be because we lack information on commercialization of the extraction process, but researchers at the University of Warwick are working on this as well as ways to extract BSF chitin with readily available and inexpensive materials . Others are also interested in eco-friendly extraction. methods. For example, Tan et al. (2021), used lactic acid, acetic acid, ethanol, and bacterial proteases to remove fat, minerals, and proteins from the BSF exoskeleton to isolate chitin .
I look forward to advancements on this topic and believe as the research expands, we will find an economical, feasible, and environmentally safe process to extract BSF chitin on an industrial level. Keep your eyes peeled, we are not too far away from this. Soon, the BSF will leave its mark on many more industries outside of food and feed.
 Bhavsar, Parag S., Giulia Dalla Fontana, and Marina Zoccola. "Sustainable Superheated Water Hydrolysis of Black Soldier Fly Exuviae for Chitin Extraction and Use of the Obtained Chitosan in the Textile Field." ACS omega (2021).
 Soetemans, Lise, Maarten Uyttebroek, and Leen Bastiaens. "Characteristics of chitin extracted from black soldier fly in different life stages." International Journal of Biological Macromolecules 165 (2020): 3206-3214.
 Tan, Yun Nian, Yi Ling Chin, and Wei Ning Chen. "Comparison of Sustainable Lipid and Protein Removal Methods for the Isolation of Insect Chitin from Black Soldier Fly Exoskeleton." ACS Food Science & Technology (2021).
 Złotko, Katarzyna, et al. "Isolation of Chitin from Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) and Its Usage to Metal Sorption." Polymers 13.5 (2021): 818.
 “Chitin Market.” Future Market Insights (FMI) | Smart Market Intelligence for Smarter You, www.futuremarketinsights.com/reports/chitin-market.
 Morganti, Pierfrancesco, Gianluca Morganti, and Maria-Beatrice Coltelli. "Smart and Sustainable Hair Products Based on Chitin-Derived Compounds." Cosmetics 8.1 (2021): 20.
 “News & Events.” Chitin Can Be Successfully Extracted from Black Soldier Fly Husks, University of Warwick, 27 Apr. 2021, warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/chitin_can_be/.
Chelsea Miranda, PhD
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Individuals with over 25 years research experience with the black soldier fly. We are passionate about the science behind the black soldier fly and its ability to convert waste to protein.
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