InBiRa – the insect biorefinery: From the utilization of organic residues and waste to the manufacture of products

In the InBiRa project, an insect biorefinery is being built for the first time, in which waste and residual streams are converted into new high-quality products.

This is made possible by the insect larvae of the black soldier fly. They contain proteins, fats and chitin, from which new products can be made.

Pupal exuviae
© Fraunhofer IGB
After pupae shed their skin, pupal exuviae remain as residual stream.

Solution approach

 

First, the waste and residual streams from the food sector, for example overstocked food or leftovers from canteens, are processed in such a way that the insect larvae can utilize them efficiently and grow quickly. The larvae are then processed further.

The insect biomass is rich in fat and proteins and is separated into different fractions in the insect biorefinery:

  • The crude fat can be converted into lubricants, fuels or cleaning agents. The particular advantage is that the crude fat has a fatty acid composition similar to that of coconut or palm kernel oil due to its high proportion of lauric acid, thus offering an alternative to tropical oils.
  • The protein content of the insects is used in the production of adhesives, binders, coatings or packaging films. The residues from the processing of the insect larvae are examined for other ways of utilization - such as the extraction of chitosan or the use as fertilizer. Chitosan is a degradable biopolymer that can be used to produce protective films, for example. Among other things, it can be used to coat clothing.

The InBiRa project is investigating the feasibility of manufacturing and the marketability of various products from the refined insect larvae in close cooperation with potential user groups. In addition, the entire manufacturing process will be subjected to a comprehensive sustainability assessment and life cycle assessment.

Project information

Project title

InBiRa – the insect biorefinery: From the utilization of organic residues and waste to the manufacture of products

 

Project duration

October 2021 – March 2024

 

Project partners

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB, Stuttgart (Coordination)
  • Biopro Baden-Württemberg GmbH, Stuttgart
  • Hermetia Baruth GmbH, Baruth/Mark Brandenburg
  • ifeu – Institut für Energie- und Umweltforschung Heidelberg gGmbH
  • University of Stuttgart, Institute for Interfacial Process Engineering and Plasma Technology
  • University of Stuttgart, Institute for Sanitary Engineering, Water Quality and Waste Management
  • PreZero Stiftung & Co. KG, Neckarsulm (associated partner)