Green business from recycled dairy wastewater

Sep 27, 2013
Green business from recycled dairy wastewater
Credit: Shutterstock

An innovative new way of treating dairy wastewater and whey could cut water and energy consumption dramatically, saving the food industry millions of euros.

The EU project REWAGEN ('Electrochemical water treatment system in the dairy industry with hydrogen recovery and ') is currently developing a to prototype the innovative treatment.

"The project aims to link to energy production as an efficient means of managing effluents - whey and wastewater," says project coordinator Alexander Karos of Fraunhofer IGB in Germany. "It will accomplish this by the production of electricity through the recovery and purification of hydrogen generated as a by-product in electro-chemical processes."

The pilot plant will act as an energy-efficient . The electricity generated through hydrogen conversion is used to operate the system. This solution could be applied for other sectors too, such as biodiesel production, olive processing and animal slaughter.

Since starting in the summer of 2012, the REWAGEN team has already made significant progress. Experiments have begun at the laboratory scale, with the first results from the pilot plant expected towards the end of 2014.

These include a predicted 10 percent reduction in , a 30 percent cut in and a wastewater recycling rate of between 80 and 95 percent.

By 2016, REWAGEN will have developed an environmentally friendly treatment system for dairy wastewater and whey, integrating energy recovery and the reuse of treated water. It will also have developed a way of separating fats and oils, and an electro-oxidation unit to allow for simultaneous wastewater treatment and hydrogen recovery.

"The food and beverage sector is one of the largest industrial sectors in Europe in terms of turnover," says Karos. "Environmental issues in the food-processing industry are diverse, but one of the main issues is wastewater prevention and treatment."

Indeed, the food sector has traditionally consumed large quantities of water either as an ingredient, or as a cleaning aid, or as a means of conveyance. By improving the environmental and economic sustainability of wastewater treatment in this sector, REWAGEN has the potential to open up new business opportunities.

"This project will contribute to the growth of the global market for environmental technology and services, the competitiveness of the EU economy and also create jobs," continues Karos. "It is worth considering that water and wastewater services provide close to 600 000 jobs in Europe, with an overall investment of more than ?33 billion annually and a turnover of around ?72 billion annually. Therefore, the development of new wastewater- and whey-treatment technologies could open commercial opportunities in an attractive market."

Jobs could also result from the development and manufacturing of the technology required to produce energy from hydrogen.

Karos adds: "Companies are also looking to invest in technologies to treat emissions with the lowest operative costs possible. This project can therefore stimulate the production of fuel cells or alternative systems capable of converting hydrogen into electrical energy."

REWAGEN is scheduled for completion in May 2016. The EU provided EUR 4.6 million in funding to the project.

Explore further: Drive system saves space and weight in electric cars

More information: www.rewagen.eu/index.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Purifying dairy wastewater while producing electricity

Jun 14, 2013

In an EU-funded project the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart is developing, together with industrial and scientific partners, a modular system to purify dairy wastewater ...

Microbes strip power from poo

Sep 17, 2013

EPSRC-funded scientists have developed a process using microbes which removes the need to use electricity to process sewage at treatment plants. The microbes can also be used to produce large quantities of ...

Report reveals missed opportunities to save water and energy

Sep 05, 2013

Water and wastewater managers are missing substantial opportunities to save energy and money, according to a report published Wednesday (Sept. 4) by Water in the West, a research center at Stanford University. The report, ...

Closing the water cycle

Sep 05, 2013

Combining advanced wastewater treatment technologies may enable industrial companies to use water in a more sustainable way. But the approaches are mainly suited for high-income countries.

Recommended for you

Drive system saves space and weight in electric cars

Oct 17, 2014

Siemens has developed a solution for integrating an electric car's motor and inverter in a single housing. Until now, the motor and the inverter, which converts the battery's direct current into alternating ...

Dispelling a misconception about Mg-ion batteries

Oct 16, 2014

Lithium (Li)-ion batteries serve us well, powering our laptops, tablets, cell phones and a host of other gadgets and devices. However, for future automotive applications, we will need rechargeable batteries ...

Turning humble seaweed into biofuel

Oct 16, 2014

The sea has long been a source of Norway's riches, whether from cod, farmed salmon or oil. Now one researcher from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) researcher hopes to add seaweed ...

Air Umbrella R&D evolves as shield from pelting rain

Oct 15, 2014

A Chinese R&D team have invented an Air Umbrella which can blast water away from the umbrella's owner. They explain how their invention deflects rain: "Air is everywhere on the earth. The flowing air can ...

User comments : 0