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Current state of chitin purification and chitosan production from insects

: Hahn, T.; Tafi, E.; Paul, A.; Salvia, R.; Falabella, P.; Zibek, S.

Volltext ()

Journal of chemical technology and biotechnology : JCTB 95 (2020), Nr.11, S.2775-2795
ISSN: 1526-498X
ISSN: 0142-0356
ISSN: 0268-2575
ISSN: 1097-4660
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung BMBF (Deutschland)
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung BMBF (Deutschland)
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer IGB ()

Chitin, and especially its deacetylated variant chitosan, has many applications, e.g. as carrier material for pharmaceutical drugs or as a flocculant in wastewater treatment. Despite its versatility and accessibility, chitin, the second most abundant polysaccharide on Earth, has so far been commercially extracted only from crustaceans and to a minor extent from fungi. Insects are a viable alternative source of chitin, but they have not been exploited in the past due to limited availability. Today however, for the sustainable production of animal feed, insect farming is being developed substantially. The availability of large quantities of insect biomass and chitin‐rich side products such as exuviae and exoskeletons has been increasing. This review provides an overview of recently published studies of chitin extraction from insects, its subsequent conversion into chitosan and the primary analytical methods used to characterize insect‐based chitin and chitosan. We have discovered a large number of research articles published over the past 20 years, confirming the increased attention being received by chitin and chitosan production from insects. Despite numerous publications, we identified several knowledge gaps, such as a lack of data concerning chitin purification degree and chitosan yield. Furthermore, analytical methods used to obtain physicochemical characteristics, structural information and chemical composition meet basic qualitative requirements but do not satisfy the need for a more quantitative evaluation. Despite the current shortcomings that need to be overcome, this review presents encouraging data on the use of insects as an alternative source of chitin and chitosan in the future. © 2020 The Authors. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society of Chemical Industry (SCI).