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Sustainable Insect Protein Solutions
Nutrition Technologies uses Black Soldier Fly larvae (BSFL) to convert organic waste by products into protein, oil and frass. The protein and oil are used as high value animal feed ingredients and frass (insect manure) is a novel soil amendment. In order to optimize insect production system, the company use biotechnology tools to leverage on the BSFL’s natural close relationship with microorganisms. This approach includes fermentation of the feedstock fed to the larvae along with the use of companion bacteria. The larvae are raised in a vertical farming system then harvested to separate larvae from frass. The larvae are then dried and pressed to separate the oil from the protein fractions. A fraction of the total larvae are maintained as broodstock and allowed to become adult flies and mate in carefully controlled conditions. This system integrates microbiology, industrial fermentation, entomology and engineering to rethink decomposition as a powerful force for good.
Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages
This technology encompasses diverse disciplines in order to develop a novel system of bioconversion using insects. As the insects-as-feed industry is in its infancy, there is a lack of basic research and engineering solutions that are available to other industries. The following are the company’s core competencies:
- Entomology: the biology of the insect, its nutritional requirements, bioconversion capabilities, and breeding requirements
- Engineering: the tools and devices used to cultivate insects and prepare their fermented feedstock. Examples vary from raw material grinding machines to LED lights with wavelengths that match the BSF visual spectrum.
- Biotechnology: specialized knowledge on insect microbial ecology and its application in insect rearing. Includes the application of a wide range of biotechnology tools to the insect production process.
- Data & Analytics: use of analytics and predictive modeling to optimize the insect production system. This includes the integration of IoT systems and machine learning tools to create key outcomes.
- Primary application area: As a protein (for the protein product) and energy (for the oil) source in the animal feed industry. The primary area for frass is used an organic soil amendment in agriculture.
- Other areas or markets:
- Feed industry: protein and oil as an attractant or palatant
- Feed industry: protein and oil as an antimicrobial additive
- Feed industry: oral vaccines in aquaculture
- Feed industry: hypoallergenic protein in pet food applications
- Agriculture: chitin and microbiota in frass can inhibit pathogens
- Pharmaceutical: BSFL are considered a promising source of novel antimicrobial compounds
- Pharmaceutical: the insect cuticle containing chitin can be purified into chitosan which has a range of applications
- Semiconductors: insect products contain melanin which can be extracted for use in semiconductors among other applications
- Potential Products: as detailed above there are the main products which are protein meal, oil and frass. Additionally there are a range of high value raw materials that can be derived from the system including: chitin/chitosan, melanin, medium chain fatty acids, and antimicrobial peptides among others.
Existing and future customers have a wide range of benefits depending on the use case and product. However some core benefits include:
- Price stability (insect production is not affected by weather as traditional agriculture is)
- Novelty (e.g. protein novelty in pet food contributes to hypoallergenic effect)