In a bid to enhance the value of waste in the dairy processing industry, the EU-funded AgriChemWhey project is testing and proving the techno-economic viability of converting agriculture and agri-food waste into sustainable lactic acid through innovative technology at a seemingly “first-of-a-kind” bio-refinery.
Whey Permeate (WP) and De-lactosed Whey Permeate (DLP) are major by-products of dairy processing and represent a key challenge for the dairy industry due to a lack of reliability in current disposal routes and represent a sustainability bottleneck for the expansion of milk production in Europe in the post-milk-quota era (withdrawn in 2015).
AgriChemWhey is an EU-funded project that is seeking to tackle the dairy waste issue by building a never-before industrial-scale biorefinery in the South East region of Ireland, that will have the capacity to valorise over 25,000 tonnes (100 per cent dry matter) per annum, of excess WP and DLP.
The project will establish a new value chain for industrial symbiosis with other local actors and create several added value products for the global market including lactic acid, polylactic acid, minerals for human nutrition and bio-based fertilisers.
Representing the first major industrial venture to convert residues from food processing, the Flagship plant in Ireland will scale-up a unique fermentation processes of WP/DLP-to-lactic acid by reducing the fermentation time to a 12-hour process, optimise the upstream processes of DLP and WP and optimise the downstream steps for simplified novel LA purification to industrial scale.
In a bid to enhance the circular bioeconomy through agriculture and agri-food waste, AgriChemWhey will also develop a blueprint of an economic sustainability concept so that other EU regions can replicate the plan.