Efficient Pumps for Insect Processing in Feed and Food Production

NEMO® progressing cavity pumps process insects with abrasive chitin shells

When processing insects for feed or food purposes, the pumps have to handle both pumping and grinding of the medium. In particular, the abrasive chitin shells of the insects can pose significant challenges for the pumps.  

As a global specialist for the food & pharmaceutical sector, NETZSCH Pumps & Systems managed to present an international system provider for the food processing industry with an efficient solution successfully implemented. We will show you how to benefit from using a high-performance NEMO® progressing cavity pump from NETZSCH.

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Maggots, NETZSCH, Pumps, Systems

Pumps for process optimization in insect processing

Global meat consumption is rising steadily year after year. Various insect species enjoy increasing popularity to meet the global demand for animal feed and as a food alternative to meat. They also serve as an alternative to fishmeal and can thus make a significant contribution to reducing over-fishing of the world's oceans. Various feed and food manufacturers have specialized in processing insects in recent years. However, the processes used mainly were either costly and labor-intensive or did not deliver satisfactory results. An international system provider for the food processing industry developed a novel method and contacted NETZSCH for this purpose.

Resistant pumps for abrasive insect shells

The process, which can be used by feed and food manufacturers, consists of devitalization, crushing, separation, drying, processing and packaging. Size reduction plays a decisive role in this process: The better the insects are ground, the easier it is to divide them into a heavy phase containing solids and a light phase containing fat. This is crucial for the subsequent, valuable protein extraction. Since the chitin shells of the insects have a very abrasive effect, the pumps had to be highly resistant and capable of processing up to five tonnes per hour at a temperature of 60 to 70 °C. The pumps were also used to process the chitin shells of the insects.


degree Celsius media temperatures

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Conveying and cutting in one process step is precisely what the NEMO® BO/SO hopper pump with an integrated cutting device makes possible. 

Efficient insect crushing and conveying by progressing cavity pump

The experts at NETZSCH suggested a NEMO® BO/SO hopper pump with cutting unit. This model was developed by NETZSCH specifically for the food industry and combines conveying and cutting in one process step. The dead insects first pass through the stuffing chamber with an integrated cutter. There, the abrasive chitin shells of the insects are broken up by rotating and stationary knives. This causes the medium to break down into two phases: A heavy phase with the solids of the chitin shells and a light, fat-containing phase. "This makes the subsequent separation process much easier", explains Rainer Gozzer, business field manager food & pharmaceuticals at NETZSCH. 

An additional perforated disc with rotating knives was installed on the pressure side to optimize the comminution process further. The disc is designed so only particles up to a specific diameter can pass through. Larger particles remain in the shredding chamber until they reach the appropriate size. A tangentially mounted flushing nozzle on the pump housing also ensures that no fluid can stay in the pump chamber, and the pump is thus wholly emptied. "Thanks to the block design with flange drive, the unit is also particularly compact and economical. It is characterized by low investment, operating and maintenance costs", Gozzer continues.

The systems equipped with NETZSCH pumps have already been delivered by the supplier and have since been successfully in operation at the end customer.

NEMO® BO/SO hopper pump with cutting device 

  • Medium: Insects with abrasive chitin shells
  • Temperature: 60 to 70 °C
  • Flow rate: Up to 5 tonnes per hour
NEMO® BO/SO hopper pump with cutting device, NETZSCH, Pumps, Systems