Researchers develop technique to produce biodiesel from black soldier fly larvae

By Park Sae-jin Posted : June 25, 2021, 14:57 Updated : June 25, 2021, 14:57

[Courtesy of K-Petro]

SEOUL -- Researchers have developed a technique to utilize high lipid content extracted from black soldier fly larvae as feedstock for biodiesel production. The renewable energy source can be used for operating vehicles, especially in the logistics sector.

Black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae are widely researched for their capability to consume food waste. A fly larva can consume food up to twice its normal weight per day. Black soldier flies also proliferate very rapidly, and their larvae are used as food ingredients, or for making livestock feed and grease used in the pharmaceutics industry.

The state-run Korea Petroleum Quality & Distribution Authority (K-Petro) said in a statement on June 25 that its research team has developed a technique to extract lipid from black soldier fly larvae and use it as feedstock for biodiesel through a joint project with Dongkook University, Sejong University, and Green Teco, a domestic green technology company.

Biodiesel is produced by mixing alcohol with oil extracted from plants and animals. Lipid, a mixture of fatty acids and derivatives, extracted from larvae is processed using sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and other substances. The processed biodiesel product met South Korea's fuel standard, researchers said, adding the new technique could reduce South Korea's dependence on imported feedstock materials.

"Biodiesel extracted from insects will contribute to the stable supply and popularization of green energy fuels," K-Petro CEO Son Joo-suk was quoted as saying. About 5.5 million tons of food waste is created annually in South Korea. The processing cost is estimated at about 800 billion won ($78.9 million), and 8.8 tons of greenhouse gases are emitted. K-Petro said biodiesel production based on black soldier fly larvae would help South Korea process food waste in a greener way.
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