Insect protein-based polymer development provides a new alternative resource for plastic production allowing extracting value from food waste. The black soldier fly larvae efficiently convert organic material in the waste into their own biomass which is rich in protein. Using these proteins for plastic production allows taking advantage of the resources in food waste that are currently lost. Moreover, such production does not compete with food production unlike some other types of bioplastics.
Protein-based plastics are known for their ability to absorb water and eventually degrade completely. It is expected that the result of this dissolving will be complete degradation to the basic components of the original protein. This project will investigate the conditions required to completely dissolve the plastic to achieve a complete degradation without microplastics production as a result. This will confirm its usefulness to the industry as microplastic-free material. Insect protein biopolymer will be used in the project and will be degraded in water using water incubation, enzymatic degradation with non-specific proteases and microbial degradation. The degradation progress will be evaluated along with changes in polymer properties. The development of protocol for degradation evaluation and microplastic production evaluation will be performed as a part of the project and thus is open for the student to establish.
Deadline for application: 2020-01-01
This is a 30 hp master’s project for students with a background in chemistry, materials science and environmental engineering. This is a collaboration project between KTH and SLU Uppsala, but will be performed at KTH.
Please contact: Evgheni Ermolaev, Researcher Environmental Engineering SLU (email@example.com) or Mikael Hedenqvist, Professor Polymeric Materials KTH (firstname.lastname@example.org)