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Green Energy from Cumbrian Cheese

Posted: 2016-04-07 16:39:10

Green Energy from Cumbrian Cheese

First digestion plant to supply gas grid with biogas from cheese residues.

The Lake District Biogas plant built by Clearfleau to process creamery residues from First Milk’s Aspatria creamery site is now being commissioned.  This is the first on-site Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant in the European dairy industry to feed bio-methane to the gas grid, generated just from digesting its cheese making residues.  Wash waters and whey permeate (creamery residue after protein extraction for use in energy supplements) are pumped to the AD plant from the creamery.

This is the first on-site Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant in the dairy industry in Europe to feed bio-methane to the gas grid, generated exclusively by digesting its cheese making residues. The plant will treat 1,650m3 per day of process effluent and whey and generate around 5MW of thermal energy. It will produce 1000m3 of biogas per hour, of which over 80% will be upgraded for injection into the national grid.  At least 60% of the bio-methane will be used in the creamery for steam generation, with the balance being used by local businesses and households in Aspatria.

The new plant, with its state of the art British technology, will take over from the outdated aerobic plant.  This will have saved First Milk from having to upgrade the old inefficient plant, reducing their effluent treatment costs and carbon footprint, while cutting operational costs, which are borne by Lake District Biogas. Additional benefits from the deployment of on-site digestion in the dairy processing sector include reduced energy and off-site disposal costs.  

Biogas is stored in the gas dome before being upgraded to bio-methane - 80% of the biogas is fed to a membrane based upgrade unit that removes carbon di-oxide from the gas to produce bio-methane with a comparable thermal value to North Sea gas (some biogas is also fed to a CHP unit to provide power to run the treatment plant). 

Gordon Archer, Chairman of Lake District Biogas says:

“Completion of this £10 million project on time, given the weather conditions in Cumbria this winter, has been a major achievement for the project team and Clearfleau.  This is the largest AD plant on a dairy processing site in Europe dedicated to handling the residual materials from the cheese making process and we look forward to working with Clearfleau on future projects.

Clearfleau’s on-site AD technology has been proven to reduce the chemical oxygen demand (COD) of the production residues by at least 95%.  Aerobic polishing will then remove residual COD and nutrients (nitrates and phosphates) to allow safe discharge into the nearby River Ellen.