Facing increasing human population, expansion of large cities and a rising throw-away-society economy, effective waste management has become a major challenge. The recycling and processing of biodegradable material, be it organic waste, wastewater or a renewable resource, is an excellent option for avoiding negative impacts on the environment and climate.
Currently, biodegradable wastes can be incinerated in disposed on landfills, anaerobically digested or directly treated at composting plants. However, from a thermodynamic point of view, organic wastes which contain valuable bio-molecules should be used at an energetically higher level: Suppose we were asked to imagine the best possible way to use these sludges. The process should require no energy, no chemicals, not even water. It should be self-contained and not emit a drop of effluent, and aside from some CO2 it should not produce greenhouse gases or offensive odours. The process should operate with the simplicity of a garbage bin, have no moving parts, and require little maintenance.
This bioconversion process should be powered by a well established creature. It must have the ability to thrive in the presence of salts, alcohols, ammonia and a variety of food toxins. Upon reaching maturity, this creature should be rigidly regimented by evolution to migrate into a collection vessel for self-harvesting, and the bundle of nutrients it contains should rival the finest fish meal.
Is the bioconversion process nothing but a fanciful leap of imagination? Surprisingly the process does, indeed, exist, and it may once become the fastest, cleanest, most efficient, and most economical way to recycle many types of organic agricultural waste.
This process is driven by the larvae of the black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens.
The aims of this project are:
Characterisation and comparison of different organic waste resources
Adaptation of process conditions to BSF life history
Qualitative and quantitative chemical-physical analysis of the larvae
Testing their suitability to serve as animal feed
Identification of the larval digestive tract microbiota
Hygiene screening and monitoring of pathogens
AUSTRIAN SCIENCE FUND (FWF) (Project number: P 26444)