Making energy from cheese waste and cow manure

  • New research has shown that a mix of whey (a by-product of the cheese-making process) and liquid cow manure may be the ideal combination for high quality biogas. Cheese whey is only a problem for really large dairies, but isn’t usable in anaerobic digesters as it acidifies too quickly. It is often applied as fertiliser or can be used as other animal feed, however by mixing whey with cow manure, researchers in Italy found that they could achieve the perfect pH.
  • Storage of farmyard manure (FYM) and slurry is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and poor storage or leakages can lead to pollution of local water bodies.
  • The research found that the cheese whey-manure combination was equivalent to corn in terms of energy generation.
  • Some dairies are already using cheese whey in biodigesters, such as some in Quebec, where cheese whey is mixed with wash water from the dairy parlour to produce biogas, which is then used to heat water tanks to pasteurise the milk.

While in the UK whey is often used as pig feed, this is not always a solution, and Government should be aware of other potential uses, particularly in terms of on-farm energy generation, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and external energy sources.

For more information, visit: http://tinyurl.com/c8ws4cu

About Julia Chatterton

Systems modeller with a particular expertise in food, farming and agricultural systems. Working with life cycle assessment methods for over 4 years to assess and analyse the environmental burdens associated with food and other production systems.
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