New Materials from Larvae – level 3

26-03-2021 07:00

The larvae of Black Soldier flies can be used for pet food and fertilizer; however, at Singapore’s first insect farm, they are being bred so that scientists can extract high-quality biomaterials.

These are materials that come from a living thing, and they can be used in pharmaceuticals or drugs as well as electronics.

The insect farm, Insectta, is farming the larvae for the valuable biomaterials that they produce. The larvae transform food waste into a material that is extracted into chitosan, melanin and, probiotics. Chitosan has anti-inflammatory properties and it is useful in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Melanin conducts electricity, and it can be used in semiconductors, batteries, and other products. Probiotics are a medicine or a food that help people.

Insectta’s technology gets the substances from the larvae in a single, environmentally-friendly process. Melanin has previously been extracted only from squid ink; however, chitosan is converted from titan, and the process requires very large amounts of solvent which has a negative impact on the environment.

Difficult words: extract (to pull something out from something else), anti-inflammatory (reducing pain and swelling), semiconductor (a material that allows electricity to move through it), solvent (a liquid substance that can dissolve other materials to form a solution).

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