Upcycling Byproducts from Insect (Fly Larvae and Mealworm) Farming into Chitin Nanofibers and Films

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A1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä
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ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, Volume 9, issue 40
Nowadays, environmental concerns make us rethink the way that we live and eat. In this regard, alternative protein sources are emerging; among them, insects are some of the most promising alternatives. Insect farming is still an infant industry, and to improve its profitability and environmental footprint, valorization of the byproducts will be a key step. Chitin as the main polysaccharide in the exoskeleton of insects has a great potential in this regard and can be processed into high value-added materials. In this study, we extracted and fibrillated chitin fibers from fly larvae (Hermetia illucens) and compared them with commercial chitin from shrimp shells. A mix of chitin and cellulose fibers was also extracted from mealworm farming waste. The purified chitinous fibers from different sources had similar chemical structures as shown by Fourier transform infrared and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopies. After mechanical fibrillation, the nanostructures of the different nanofibers were similar with heights between 9 and 11 nm. Chitin nanofibers (ChNFs) from fly larvae presented less nonfibrillated fiber bundles than the shrimp-derived analogue, pointing toward a lower recalcitrance of the fly larvae. ChNF suspensions underwent different film-forming protocols leading to films with tensile strengths of 83 ± 7 and 71 ± 4 MPa for ChNFs from shrimp and fly, respectively. While the effect of the chitin source on the mechanical properties of the films was demonstrated to be negligible, the presence of cellulose nanofibers closely mixed with ChNFs in the case of mealworm led to films twice as tough. Our results show for the first time the feasibility of producing ChNFs from insect industry byproducts with high potential for valorization and integral use of biomass.
| openaire: EC/H2020/788489/EU//BioELCell Funding Information: The authors would like to thank S-Fly and Die Wurm Farm for providing the raw materials needed for this study and Tuyen Nguyen for the fluidization of the different ChNFs. LGP2 is part of the LabEx Tec 21 (Investissements d’Avenir - grant agreement no. ANR-11-LABX-0030) and of the PolyNat Carnot Institute (Investissements d’Avenir - grant agreement no. ANR-16-CARN-0025-01). This work was supported by Grenoble INP, “Bourse Présidence”, and the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement no. 788489). O.J.R. also acknowledges the Canada Excellence Research Chair initiative and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). Support from the Austrian Biorefinery Center Tulln (ABCT) is gratefully acknowledged. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 American Chemical Society.
environmental footprint, future foods, Hermetia illucens, insect farming, nanochitin, Tenebrio molitor
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Pasquier, E, Beaumont, M, Mattos, B D, Otoni, C G, Winter, A, Rosenau, T, Belgacem, M N, Rojas, O J & Bras, J 2021, ' Upcycling Byproducts from Insect (Fly Larvae and Mealworm) Farming into Chitin Nanofibers and Films ', ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, vol. 9, no. 40, pp. 13618–13629 . https://doi.org/10.1021/acssuschemeng.1c05035