Monday, January 11, 2016

Whey To Go

According to this piece in ThinkProgress, a byproduct of cheese production can be used to generate electricity.

Technically, the power station — located in Albertville in the southeastern part of France — uses whey, a byproduct leftover from the production of the town’s famous Beaufort cheese. Whey is the liquid that is released from the curds during the cheese-making process, and it’s the same liquid that often rises to the top of yogurt products. It is mostly water, but is also contains things like proteins and milk sugars. It’s incidental to most cheese-making processes — the curds are what eventually becomes the finished cheese product — and is often considered a waste product by cheese makers. Unfortunately for cheese producers, the process of making cheese results in a lot of residual whey — for every pound of cheese, a producer is normally left with about a gallon of whey.

When bacteria is added to whey, however, they begin to digest the sugars. That, in turn, produces methane, a biogas that can be captured and used as fuel. In Albertville, that methane is then fed through a machine that heats water to 194 degrees Fahrenheit, which in turn generates electricity. According to the Independent, the Albertville plant is able to produce an estimated 3,000,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. That electricity, according to the Telegraph, is eventually sold to French energy giant EDF.

Knowing the French, they probably have a great wine to go with it.