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ICM set sights on dairy for anaerobic digestion potential

By Neil Merrett , 10-Apr-2009

A processor of anaerobic digestion systems says it has developed a product that can now create energy from lactose-rich wastewater leftover from dairy production to meet global industry need for greener technology.

ICM claims that its Bio-Methanator units can have applications for dairy wastewater in cutting sewer surcharges currently facing manufacturers and also producing natural gas or renewable energy to power a manufacturer’s operations.

Alternative energy

As dairy processors on both sides of the Atlantic come under pressure to find greener production methods, a number of alternative energy schemes are being sought in the industry.

Making use of the biological properties in dairy wastewater and by products such as whey is one method currently being courted by dairy groups.

Having manufactured its Bio-Methanator products since 1997, the manufacturer claims that after successful use in brewing and juice production, the systems can also be a major boost for the dairy industry’s green commitments.

Chris Sleigher, ICM’s water/wastewater product manager, said that between anaerobic digestion already being established in some European markets and US government pledges to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, the group saw strong potential for the product.

“The microbes ICM uses in this system love lactose, and they can treat a variety of flows and BOD/COD strengths,” he stated. “This system looks very promising for acid whey, ricotta, and lactose remaining after Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) and Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) manufacturing.”

Green needs

While some European and US-based processors have already shown some interest in adopting anaerobic digestion into their operations in an attempts to reduce environmental impacts, a variety of different systems are being looked at.

Earlier this year, the European Dairy Association (EDA) said that many different schemes are currently being piloted across the bloc to test the feasibility of greener dairy production.

While the use of biogas created from dairy waste was one area being considered, the association claimed that similar testing on solar energy and wind farms was also being undertaken.

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