ChitoTex – Development and production of new insect chitosan and chitosan based functional coatings for yarns and textile fabrics

The aim of this project is the development of insect chitin as a sustainable chitin source for use as a functional surface coating of yarns and of technical textile surfaces. The project will consider the entire value creation chain: starting with the production of chitin from secondary streams of industrial insect cultivation, through a targeted enzymatic and chemical modification of chitin and chitosan, to the application in functional coating of textile surfaces and yarns.

Insect cocoons as a renewable source of chitin.
© Fraunhofer IGB
After the last molting of the pupa to the fly, chitin-containing exuviae remain.

Insect chitin as a source for chitosan

Insect-based protein is currently used as pet food and was approved for use as fish feed in aquaculture in summer 2017. The by-products of protein production contain high levels of chitin, a nitrogenous acetylated polysaccharide. Currently, the main part of the deacetylated derivative chitosan is still obtained from crab shells. The use of regionally available insect-based chitosan for application as textile coating is the focus in ChitoTex.

Biotechnological production of chitosan

The identification of residue streams with a chitin content of more than 30 percent, based on analysis methods developed specifically for this purpose, laid the foundation for the establishment of polysaccharide purification processes. Together with its partners, the Fraunhofer IGB has identified and produced 15 chitin-degrading enzymes that pave the way for a purely biotechnological value-added chain for chitosan production. Insect chitosan showed analogous properties to crab chitosan in physicochemical studies and is therefore suitable for use as a sizing agent. In addition to the application-technological characterization, the unmodified chitosan has already been tested for textile coating and first investigations regarding the hydrophobic modification of the chitosan have been successfully completed.


Insect-based chitosan has established itself as a local alternative to crab-based chitosan in many ways. Based on these results, a follow-up project for the application of hydrophobicized chitosan for textile coating has already been initiated. In addition, research activities are to be intensified in cooperation with protein producers and extended to other residual material streams.


Hahn, T., Roth, A., Ji, R., Schmitt, E., Zibek, S. 2020. Chitosan production with larval exoskeletons derived from the insect protein production. in: Journal of Biotechnology, Vol. 310, pp. 62-67.

Hahn, T., Roth, A., Febel, E., Fijalkowska, M., Schmitt, E., Arsiwalla, T., Zibek, S. 2018. New methods for high-accuracy insect chitin measurement. in: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Vol. 98, pp. 5069-5073. Doi:10.1002/jsfa.9044


bioö – an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) – shows in the video how digitalization and innovative materials are changing the textile industry.

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Project information

Project title

ChitoTex – Development and production of new insect chitosan and chitosan based functional coatings for yarns and textile fabrics


Project duration

March 2015 – February 2018


Project partners

  • Institute of Textile Technology and Process Engineering (ITV), Denkendorf (Germany)
    Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB, Stuttgart (Germany)
  • Textilchemie Dr. Petry GmbH, Reutlingen (Germany)
  • Lauffenmühle GmbH & Co. KG, Lauchringen (Germany)
  • Eucodis Bioscience, Vienna (Austria)
  • Protix Biosystems, Amsterdam (Netherlands)
  • Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Oslo (Norway)


We would like to thank the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for funding the project "ChitoTex – Development and production of new insect chitosan and chitosan based functional coatings for yarns and textile fabrics", promotional reference 031A567A.

Federal Ministry of Education and Research.