Soldier Fly Larvae Protein Extraction Improved by Sonication

Probe-type sonicators have become one of the most common processing techniques for Soldier Fly Larvae (SFL) protein processing due to their efficiency, mild processing conditions, scalability, and versatility. Sonication enables the disintegration of soldier fly larvae biomass and extraction of proteins, contributing to the utilization of soldier fly larvae as a sustainable and nutritious protein source as food additive.

Soldier Fly Larvae as Nutritional Protein Source

Soldier fly larvae are used as protein source in food manufacturing. Ultrasonic extractors are highly efficient when it comes to the isolation of high-quality protein from insect meal.Soldier fly larvae (Hermetia illucens) have gained significant attention as a sustainable and nutritious protein source for food manufacturing due to their high protein content, efficient conversion of organic waste into biomass, and relatively low environmental footprint compared to traditional livestock farming. in the following paragraphs, we give you a comprehensive overview of the use of soldier fly larvae as a protein source and introduce you to the advantages of probe-type sonicators in protein production from soldier fly larvae, such as higher protein yield, improved protein quality and time-efficient processing.

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Learn more about ultrasonic protein extraction from insect meal!

Ultrasonic processor UIP2000hdT (2kW) with batch reactor for the industrial manufacturing of protein from soldier fly larvae.


Watch the rapid disintegration and extraction of a soldier fly larva by sonicating with a Hielscher UP200Ht probe sonicator.

Soldier Fly Larva Extraction in Water using the Probe-Type Sonicator UP200Ht

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Soldier Fly Larvae as Protein Source for Food Manufacturing

  • Nutritional Profile: Soldier fly larvae are rich in protein, containing essential amino acids required for human nutrition. They also provide essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, making them a valuable nutritional source.
  • Sustainability: Soldier fly larvae can be reared on various organic waste streams, such as food waste, agricultural by-products, and manure. Their ability to convert organic waste into biomass reduces environmental pollution and contributes to waste reduction and recycling efforts.
  • Efficiency: Soldier fly larvae have a rapid growth rate and high feed conversion efficiency, meaning they can produce a significant amount of biomass using relatively little feed. This efficiency makes them a cost-effective protein source compared to conventional livestock.
  • Versatility: soldier fly larvae can be processed into various forms, including whole larvae, defatted larvae meal, protein isolates, and hydrolysates. This versatility allows for their incorporation into a wide range of food products, such as animal feed, pet food, aqua-feed, and human food products.


Use of Probe-Type Sonicators for Disintegration of Soldier Fly Larvae and Protein Extraction

The application of power ultrasound contributes to two major process steps during protein isolation from soldier fly larvae. In general, defatted soldier fly larvae meal is used as raw material. Ultrasonication promotes the disintegration and break down of the cellular structure so that the protein becomes more easily available. Simultaneously, cavitational streaming, generated by power ultrasound, pushes the alkaline solvent into the cells and washes the protein out so that the major protein content is finally in the solvent.

  1. Disintegration of soldier fly larvae: Probe-type sonicators are used to disrupt the cellular structure of soldier fly larvae, facilitating the release of intracellular components, including proteins, lipids, and other nutrients. Ultrasonic waves generated by the probe cause cavitation, which creates vacuum cavities that implode, generating intense shear forces and mechanical agitation. This disrupts the cell membranes of the larvae, leading to the disintegration of cellular components.
  2. Protein Extraction: Sonication helps extract proteins from soldier fly larvae biomass by enhancing the mass transfer of proteins into the solvent. The cavitation-induced microturbulence and microstreaming promote the diffusion of proteins out of the disrupted cells and into the surrounding solvent. This improves the efficiency of protein extraction, resulting in higher yields of protein-rich extracts.

This ultrasonic cell disintegration and protein extraction gives superior protein yields. As sonication is a mild, non-thermal processing technique, excellent protein quality is obtained.


In this video we show you a 2 kilowatt ultrasonic system for inline operation in a purgeable cabinet. Hielscher supplies ultrasonic equipment to almost all industries, such as the chemical industry, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, petrochemical processes as well as for solvent based extraction processes. This purgeable stainless steel cabinet is designed for operation in hazardous areas. For this purpose, the sealed cabinet can be purged by the customer with nitrogen or fresh air to prevent flammable gases or vapors from entering the cabinet.

2x 1000 Watts Ultrasonicators in Purgeable Cabinet for Installation in Hazardous Areas

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Research Proven Efficiency of Ultrasonic Protein Extraction from Soldier Fly Larvae

Research has already demonstrated that ultrasound-assisted extraction significantly increased the protein extraction ratio of black soldier fly larvae from 55.40% to 80.37%. The effect of ultrasound-assisted extraction on the structure of black soldier fly larvae improved the solubility and emulsion capacity of proteins isolated from black soldier fly larvae. Additionally, the in-vitro protein digestibility of ultrasonically-extracted black soldier fly larvae protein was 99.79 %, which is comparable to that of whey protein. (cf. Xu et al., 2023)

MultiSonoReactor for improved soldier fly larvae processing using high-power ultrasound. Ultrasonic extraction produces high yields of high-quality protein from insect meal.

MultiSonoReactor – Industrial ultrasonic reactor with 24kW ultrasound power for the inline processing of soldier fly larvae for protein isolation

What Makes Sonication the Preferred Extraction Technique for Soldier Fly Larvae Protein?

Sonication has become one of the most common processing techniques for soldier fly larvae protein processing. This is due to several technological advantages that ultrasonic protein extraction offers.

  • Efficiency: Sonication offers a rapid and efficient method for disintegrating soldier fly larvae biomass and extracting proteins. Compared to traditional mechanical or chemical methods, sonication requires shorter processing times and can achieve higher extraction yields.
  • Mild Processing Conditions: Sonication can be conducted at relatively low temperatures, minimizing the denaturation or degradation of heat-sensitive proteins and preserving their functional properties. This is particularly important for maintaining the nutritional quality of soldier fly larvae protein extracts.
  • Scalability: Sonication is a scalable technology that can be easily integrated into industrial-scale processing operations. Probe-type sonicators are available in am extensive range of sizes and configurations – for batch and inline treatment, allowing for customization to meet the specific processing requirements of soldier fly larvae protein extraction facilities.
  • Versatility: Sonication can be applied to a variety of soldier fly larvae biomass sources and processing conditions. Whether using fresh or dried larvae, sonication can effectively disintegrate the biomass and extract proteins, making it suitable for different processing scenarios and end-product applications.


When compared to alternative protein extraction methods, ultrasonic extraction excels by its precise controllability and adjustability to protein sources. The non-thermal ultrasound treatment prevents the degradation of heat-sensitive proteins. Especially the simple use, excellent efficiency and high protein yields let the sonication method shine and outcompete other techniques.
Therefore, probe-type sonicators have become one of the most common processing techniques for soldier fly larvae protein processing due to their efficiency, mild processing conditions, scalability, and versatility.

Sonication enables the disintegration of soldier fly larvae biomass and extraction of proteins, contributing to the utilization of soldier fly larvae as a sustainable and nutritious protein source for food manufacturing.

How Doe I Find the Best Sonicator for Protein Extraction from Soldier Fly Larvae?

When selecting a sonicator for protein extraction from soldier fly larvae, prioritize a reliable probe-type sonicator that features enough ultrasound power for your target processing capacity, industrial grade and robustness, ease of use, safety features, and sincere technical support. High-quality ultrasonic probe-type extractors made by Hielscher Ultrasonics, are preferred for their robust and customized construction, consistent performance, and comprehensive consulting and customer support, making them the most reliable extraction equipment for soldier fly larvae protein processing applications.

Why Hielscher Ultrasonics?

  • high efficiency
  • state-of-the-art technology
  • reliability & robustness
  • adjustable, precise process control
  • batch & inline
  • for any volume
  • intelligent software
  • smart features (e.g., programmable, data protocolling, remote control)
  • easy and safe to operate
  • low maintenance
  • CIP (clean-in-place)

Design, Manufacturing and Consulting – Quality Made in Germany

Hielscher ultrasonicators are well-known for their highest quality and design standards. Robustness and easy operation allow the smooth integration of our ultrasonicators into industrial facilities. Rough conditions and demanding environments are easily handled by Hielscher ultrasonicators.

Hielscher Ultrasonics is an ISO certified company and put special emphasis on high-performance ultrasonicators featuring state-of-the-art technology and user-friendliness. Of course, Hielscher ultrasonicators are CE compliant and meet the requirements of UL, CSA and RoHs.

The table below gives you an indication of the approximate processing capacity of our ultrasonicators:

Batch Volume Flow Rate Recommended Devices
10 to 2000mL 20 to 400mL/min UP200Ht, UP400St
0.1 to 20L 0.2 to 4L/min UIP2000hdT
10 to 100L 2 to 10L/min UIP4000hdT
15 to 150L 3 to 15L/min UIP6000hdT
n.a. 10 to 100L/min UIP16000
n.a. larger cluster of UIP16000

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