These shells of Black Soldier Fly larvae eat their way through hundreds of pounds of food waste at Singapore’s first insect farm, Insectta.
Insectta does not breed these insects for food, but for the valuable biomaterials they produce.
(SOUNDBITE) INSECTTA CO-FOUNDER AND CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, CHUA KAI-NING, SAYS:
“These black solider flies enable us to convert food waste that is a product with negative value into a product with positive value – in this case our high quality biomaterials. So we specialize in a proprietary extraction process from the black soldier flies to produce chitosan, Remove melanin and probiotics from these insects. “
The substances, which are worth a few hundred dollars per gram, are sold to third-party companies.
Melanin, which conducts electricity, can be used in semiconductors, supercapacitors, or batteries.
Chitosan has anti-inflammatory properties and is useful in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Insectta works with the Science, Technology and Research Agency. The company’s patent-pending technology milks the larvae’s numerous lucrative substances in a single environmentally friendly process.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) Co-Founder of Insect and Chief Technology Officer, PHUA JUN WEI, said, “Traditionally, melanin was never extracted except from squid ink. But for chitosan, extracting chitin and converting chitin to chitosan requires everyone very large amounts of corrosive solvents. The convergent step – converting chitin to chitosan requires 50% sodium hydroxide, which is extremely corrosive and is detrimental to the environment. “
The hundreds of millions of larvae on the farm in the middle of a residential area in Singapore eat four times their body weight in food weight every day.
And in the chamber next door, the adult flies lay eggs that hatch to replace the larvae that were used for the extraction.