The project’s objective is the creation of a circular economy in the agricultural and zootechnical sector.
One of the main outputs of the project foreseen in the 1st Development objective (DO) is the creation of the first demonstration plant in Emilia Romagna for black soldier fly (BSF) rearing.
Thanks to these large-scale systems, it will be possible to manage in a sustainable, efficient and cost-effective way all types of organic waste in the future, from the agro-zootechnical production chain to the urban waste.
From these organic waste it would be possible to obtain a high value added product for agricultural use (compost enriched with zeolitite), while insects can lead to various industrial and agricultural purposes.
Compared to the compost currently on the market, the product that will be obtained from these plants, thanks to enrichment in zeolitites, will reduce the contribution of synthetic fertilizers due to its action of gradual release of nutrients. Compost with high organic value is strongly sought for turning semi-desert areas into agricultural use areas. Therefore, the production of this type of plants could represent export opportunities to high-capacity destinations (eg the Middle East, North Africa, etc.).
From fractions of insects it is thought to extract proteins, fats and chitin. In the framework of Development objective 2, these fractions will be characterized at a molecular level and their composition will depend on the extraction methodologies , allowing also to have, as an additional output, a further detailed knowledge of the optimal extraction procedures that allows to obtain the desired fractions.
The protein fraction, if obtained from vegetable / food waste, could be used as a feed additive, in the animal feed and in the pet food industry. Chitin could be profitably commercialized in the biomedical field or for the production of materials that could be employed in other industrial fields (fibers, sponges, foams). The lipid fraction of BSF could be used / sold for energy or biodiesel production.
The DO3 aim is the use of denatured proteins deriving from the rearing of BSF to design and optimize, with a view at environmental sustainability, new materials and in particular bioplastics.
The main limits of these materials, untill now, are related to the mechanical, thermal and barrier properties that can be improved by using additives and secondary components in mixture. The goal of DO 3 is rational design, assisted by statistical techniques such as combined mixture design, synthesis and characterization of bioplastics. All the compositional and process variables (film extrusion etc) are optimized to manage the process before scaling up and to obtain materials with the best performance characteristics.
Among the DO4 outputs there is the assessment of a real environmental sustainability, driven by the innovative process for the production of bioplastics from denatured proteins deriving from BSF breeding. The use of polymers coming from plant origin, produces negative effects such as the use of toxic pesticides and the consumption of agricultural land, subtracted to production intended for human needs. The valorization of animal and vegetable waste for the production of bioplastics represents a possible strategy for the reduction of environmental burdens, associated with waste management. The LCA analysis will be used as a support to the bioplastics eco-design processes to facilitate a low environmental impact scale-up.