What technology is needed to grow insects?
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What technology is needed to grow insects?

  • 26 September 2023

Cultivating mealworms: Equans Refrigeration outlines the requirements for a cultivation installation.

With the increasing demand for alternative proteins, insect farming is becoming increasingly lucrative. Gert Boersma, project manager at Equans Refrigeration, outlines the requirements for a cultivation plant for mealworms. 

"Simply put, a cultivation plant for mealworms must be able to do five things: cool, heat, dehumidify, humidify and change air. No different than the energy-efficient climate and air conditioning systems that we at Equans Refrigeration have been supplying to companies in the food processing industry for decades."

Steady conditions 

"In the breeding area, there are thousands of trays full of mealworms piled up. The trick is to keep the temperature, relative humidity and air distribution in the room as consistent as possible. The more stable the climate, the more stable the cultivation. This is very precise. After all, each container in the room has its own microclimate. To create the most even conditions possible in the cultivation space, an advanced air distribution system is needed. At Equans we first simulate the air distribution on a computer. This way we test and optimize the air flow in speed and direction. Each worm therefore gets what it needs."

Ventilate without fluctuations

"Mealworms prefer different comfort conditions per life stage - that is, as a maggot, worm, pupa or beetle. That makes climate control extra challenging. In addition, they produce heat and CO2. To get rid of that CO2, the cultivation space must be ventilated with outside air. Depending on the outside air conditions, that requires additional heating, cooling, humidification or dehumidification of the cultivation area."

Production faster and cheaper

"Once the mealworms are fully grown after 8 to 11 weeks, they can be processed into human food and animal feed. Breeding mealworms is faster, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than producing meat. Companies that want to start growing them, or, for example, convert an existing chicken barn into an insect barn, can contact Equans Refrigeration without obligation for more information." 

Source: Equans Refrigeration