Insects have great potential as future sources of energy.
Can cockroaches that we dislike turn into eco-friendly automotive fuel?
Fat extracted from insects, such as larva of moths, pupas, black soldier flies and cockroaches, can turn into bio-energy that may replace fossil fuels.
Bio-diesel produced by refining oil and fat extracted from insects can be used as clean fuel that reduces pollutants, such as fine dusts, and emits less carbon dioxide.
Insects are known to have very rich nutrients, protein, minerals and fat.
The United Nations is regarding insects as the future food, and the Netherlands is operating farms of insects to promote eco-friendly agriculture using natural enemies.
And, insect-based bio-drugs attract attention as new industry areas with unlimited growth potential, and insects are emerging as sources for various strategic industries, such as foods, pets, ecology learning, livestock feeds, and life science.
Having perceived importance of insect-related industry, the government is concentrating efforts on fostering insect-related industry since it announced the ‘Five-year comprehensive plan for promoting insect-related industry’ in 2011.
Though nearly no progress is made in research on production or use of insect oil, it is expected to have great potential as a source material for foods, medicines and feeds.
Since various insects contain 8~40% of fat on average, insect oil can be used as high quality fuel for vehicles if it is turned into bio-diesel.
Korea is not favorable to produce vegetable fats and oils, including palm oil and soybean oil, which are used as main materials for bio-diesel, because of its narrow arable lands and climate conditions of four distinct seasons.
Despite this unfavorable situation, it will be possible to develop technologies to raise large quantity of insects in Korea because these facilities can be concentrated and automated. Moreover, insects can be raised in short period of time using food wastes, contributing to purifying environment.
Traditionally, most farming families have experience in sericulture, and the Rural Development Administration has developed advanced technologies for raising black soldier flies, the insect of purifying environment.
Rural communities will be able to raise insects using idle farmlands, which are not being cultivated due to aging of rural population and lack of workforce, and insect raising business will attract young workforce from cities.
While bio-fuel based on microalgae, which attracts attention as a next generation bio-fuel, is expected to be commercialized in around 2020 due to huge amount of investment and technologies required to be developed, insect-based bio-fuel requires much less facilities and funds for commercialization than microalgae.
And it will be possible to increase contents of oil and fat in insects by making physiological, ecological and genetic modification. As these insects will be raised not for eating purpose, their genetic modification is unlikely to invite people’s resistance to environmental and health risks.
Among countries, Japan is seeking to take the lead in microalgae and insect-related technologies, and it aims to grow as an exporter of bio-fuel using microalgae and insects by 2020.
Korea is actively carrying forward R&D projects in microalgae area, and it will able to take superior position in producing and using insect oil when the government positively provides policy consideration and support for insect-related industry.
Source : todayenergy