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Drying 1 tonne of insects in 3 hours

The ENTODRYA is the winning concept from the PROteINSECT student engineering competition. This concept can dry one tonne of insects in just three hours.

The aim of the competition, organised by the EU project PROteINSECT, was to dry one tonne of fly larvae (Musca Domestica) per day so that the dried product can be stored for one year at room temperature while operating under minimal environmental load.

[Photo: Eric Isselee| Shutterstock]
[Photo: Eric Isselee| Shutterstock]

Insects need to be cooked first

Insects are said to be a promising protein source for the feed industry. If you think of soy, which has to be roasted before it can be used as feed, insects need to be looked at from this perspective also very precisely, to fully use the potential of this feed. Drying and processing insects, and thereby enabling a longer shelf-life of the product, is a very important component in the complex supply-chain of insects as animal feed. Although there is not much information available regarding which systems are currently used for drying, it can be said that solar dryers and fluidised bed dryers are used in some companies.

Figure 1 – Drum dryer.

Using a Combined-Heat-and-Power-Unit

The concept for the ENTODRYA is based on a motor driven drum dryer which is also being used in the milk-industry, where (funnily) also animal protein is dried. Figure 1 shows a typical drum dryer with two applicator rolls, the actual drying drum and the blade to scratch off the dried product. Below the drying drum you can see a belt conveyor. The drum is heated by compressed steam, which is produced with the thermal energy from a Combined-Heat-and-Power-Unit (CHPU). The decision to use a CHPU is based on the fact that insects might be produced in countries with insufficient infrastructure, where a CHPU could also supply the surrounding buildings and machines with electricity and or heat. The drum dryer has two applicator rolls and a blade to scratch off the dried material from the drum. Pre- and post-drying on the belt conveyors is done with hot air from the CHPU. The first conveyor belt is used to supply the drum with the moist larvae. A second conveyor belt, which is placed under the blade/drum unit, conveys the dried larvae flakes into a storage unit. If the final product is below 5% moisture, it can be stored in sealed bags at room temperature. In Figure 2 the ENTODRYA-process is depicted schematically.

Figure 2 - Schematic diagram of the ENTODRYA process.

The calculations for the drum dryer are showed in the Table below. The assumed parameters (65% water content of life larvae) are to be verified in the individual plant, due to variations in breeding system.

Still some challenges to overcome

Conclusively, the ENTODRYA is a concept which shows one out of various designs for a dryer for processing larvae to larvae-flakes or larvae-flour. This machine is capable of drying one tonne of insects to a final moisture content of 5% in just three hours. The limitations are that the heavy V2A drum needs to be built by professional steel-processing companies. Also the steam generation and the heating of the drum is a challenge, since too much protein denaturation should be prevented to some extent. Nonetheless, this concept could be used for processing several kinds of insect larvae to larvae-flakes with a long shelf life, which then could be used as feed in modern supply chains. The concept is already being evaluated concerning the feasibility by some companies.

Simon Schantl can be contacted at:

Simon Schantl, designer of the ENTODRYA


  • Dirk Wascher

    Very interesting device. As I understand a prototype still needs to be constructed. At Alterra, Wageningen UR, we are preparing a project that combines a series of on-farm facilities to allow lifestock farmers producing their own insect-based protein as soya replacement. It could be interesting to exchange in these matters.

  • Emmy Koeleman

    Dear Dirk, very interesting indeed. Feel free to contact me about this, so we can maybe highlight this on as well.

  • Luis Roa

    Very interesting machine, Is possible make the machine in short time?. I have a project in Venezuela country South America for do insect protein source for the fish feed. In Venezuela there are professional steel-processing companies and electrical power although is limited at this time, it is also very economical as well as the water. Please let me know what might be the next steps to acquire a machine of these

  • Rose Disney

    Here in the UK we are so far behind with insect larvae inclusion in animal feed. Dirk please keep us informed, this sounds so interesting

  • Very interesting, right now we are producing soldier fly larvae and are dehydrated in a dehydrator of vegetables. efficiency is very low.


    very practically important instrument.

  • Bernardo O'Neill

    That is amazing, Dirk, thanks for sharing. To me it seems insects are a great opportunity for decentralization of feed manufacture operations, especially with the possibility for on-farm facilities. I've been trying to learn about the subject and analyzing business possibilities here in Portugal, where i live. If you would like to talk or share more about the subject and Alterra's research i invite you to contact me through

  • Harish Chandra Bohra

    Very useful and interesting device. Few years back we have designed and successful ly used a solar-cum-electric dryer for 2-kg high molasses, high moisture, feed block, to use in Indian hot arid areas, to efficiently use solar energy during day and electricity during night. It was very simple gadget with all fixed, non moveable parts. Dr H C Bohra, India.

  • Jean-Louis Thouvenin

    Dear Luis,
    I have a similar project in China. Could we exchange on the pitfalls of this new industry and how we cope with them? This piece of equipment looks very promising. I intended to use a standard heat drum normally used for drying nuts or herbs.

  • Jean-Louis Thouvenin

    Dear Rose,
    A friend of mine in the UK tried to convince some municipalites of the interest of having their organic domestic waste digested by insects instead of sending them to the landfills. There was no response. Do you have an idea how we could proceed to have the authorities get some interest in this new industry? Thank you.

  • Rigo Robert

    I love all comments :) We have a blow fly (blue bottle) maggots farm in Hungary. We made 2 tonnes/month maggots for fishing, for bait! But now, we have opportuniti to made poultry-food from maggots. So we need to prepare for it. Dryer and other components... its a nice basic for us too!!!!

  • Rigo Robert

    And my email adress, if somebody want to help us somehow :)

  • LC Lin

    I just wonder how we can get so many insects for processing?

  • Emmy Koeleman

    Dear LC Lin, that is indeed one of the challenges. Bulk production of insects, to produce insect meal for animal feed, is not yet daily practice.

  • Yulia Aksenton

    Dear Dirk, we would be very interesting to learn about your technology. Our company based at Taiwan and focusing in aquaculture and we have a lot of customers that would be very interested in your technology. I would really appreciate to discuss with you the the opportunity,

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