First Milk commissions anaerobic digestion plant to create energy from cheese residue
I am delighted that First Milk and Lake District Biogas have commissioned Clearfleau to design, build and operate the largest anaerobic digestion (AD) plant to be installed on a UK dairy processing site. It will generate biogas entirely from cheese processing residues, possibly the first plant of its kind in Europe.
Clearfleau has finished the first stage of this major sustainability project on the Aspatria site (in Cumbria), one of the UK’s largest cheese creameries. Once operational, the plant will feed bio-methane into the gas grid.
Benefits will include:
20-year index-linked, government-backed incentive (FiT and RHI) payments
1000m3/ day of biogas, much of which will be upgraded for injection into the national grid
Bio-methane available for use in the creamery for steam generation, reducing net purchase of fossil fuels, while the balance will be consumed by local users
The feedstock from the Aspatria creamery site comprises low-strength wash waters such as process rinses supplemented by whey permeate (cheese production residue after protein extraction for use in energy supplements). This will be pumped to the AD plant from the creamery.
Tom Northway, Director of Lake District Biogas had commented:
“Clearfleau’s on-site digestion technology has been selected as it has a proven track record in the dairy sector. It will optimise gas output and deliver a solid return on capital invested. We are delighted this will be the first plant in the dairy sector to supply green gas to the national gas grid.”
As an initial step, Clearfleau refurbished the existing aerobic plant to enable First Milk to significantly reduce levels of phosphate in the cleansed water discharged to the River Ellen. This will ensure the new plant meets the tighter standards, required by the Water Framework Directive.
Chris Gooderham, Director of First Milk said:
“Clearfleau’s technology will reduce the cost of handling the Aspatria site’s production residues, while generating renewable energy for use on site. The old aerobic treatment plant is a costly overhead for First Milk, both in terms of running costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The new plant will reduce off-site transport of aerobic sludge and make good use of the whey permeate.”
The plant will treat the entire wastewater output of the factory – some 1,300 m3 of effluent and 350m3 of whey permeate – a combined daily total of 1,650 m3.
Clearfleau’s on-site AD technology is proven to reduce the chemical oxygen demand (COD) of the production residues by 95%. Aerobic polishing will then remove residual COD and nutrients (nitrates and phosphates) to allow safe river discharge.
Craig Chapman, CEO of Clearfleau Limited added:
“Use of aerobic treatment for dairy processing residues is outdated. The revenue and energy contribution from AD offers a much better return than a new aerobic plant. Moreover most AD systems are not suited to dairy feedstock or treating feedstock containing fatty residues. Clearfleau’s technology is well proven in the dairy industry and offers a robust, low risk solution.”
This project generating biogas solely from creamery residues to help power creamery operations is based on our proven British technology. It is a major development for First Milk and its partners, Lake District Biogas, Renewables Unlimited and Clearfleau Ltd.
The integrated on-site AD plant will ready to take over from the existing aerobic plant in early 2016. Clearfleau’s on-site AD technology will reduce the chemical oxygen demand (COD) of production residues by 95%. Aerobic polishing will then remove residual COD and nutrients to allow safe river discharge.