Team Blitz India
LOS ANGELES: Researchers have found a method to isolate and purify insect-derived chemicals and convert them into functional bioplastics. “For 20 years, my group has been developing methods to transform natural products — such as glucose obtained from sugar cane or trees — into degradable, digestible polymers that don’t persist in the environment,” said Karen Wooley, PhD, the project’s principal investigator.
“But those natural products are harvested from resources that are also used for food, fuel, construction and transportation.” Wooley began looking for alternatives that did not have these competing applications. Her colleague Jeffery Tomberlin, PhD, suggested she use waste products from farming black soldier flies, an expanding industry he has been assisting her.
Because the larvae of these flies contain a high concentration of proteins and other nutritious compounds, immature insects are increasingly being raised for animal feed and waste consumption. Adults, on the other hand, have a short life span after breeding and are then discarded.