What a whey to make energy – a cheese-to-gas plant

The Wensleydale Creamery in Yorkshire has signed a deal to send its waste to the Leeming biogas plant, where it will be converted into energy

A major cheese producer in Yorkshire is to supply a local waste-to-energy facility with a new feedstock, in the form of waste whey.

The Wensleydale Creamery produces around 4,000 tonnes of the cheese every year – it has agreed to send the waste product from its factory to the Leeming biogas plant, which will turn the dairy waste into biogas using anaerobic digestion.

When milk is being churned into cheese the curd separates from the whey – the latter is then usually discarded.

Now it will be broken down into biogas using bacteria, which can be burned to generate heat and electricity.

Currently the plant uses ice-cream to make the gas, which it is able to inject directly into the grid.

The facility, which is run by sustainable investment firm Iona Capital, expects the cheese will help it produce enough methane to heat as many as 4,000 homes across the region.

The companies say this will help reduce the carbon intensity of energy, stop food ending up in landfill and as the cheese can also be used to produce bio-fertiliser, help in encouraging sustainable farming practices.

David Hartley, Managing Director of the Wensleydale Creamery, said: “The whole process of converting local milk to premium cheese and then deriving environmental and economic benefit from the natural by-products is an essential part of our business plan as a proud rural business.”

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