by Susan DeFreitas
January 30th, 2011
Milk, cream, proteins, syrups and pieces of fruit–all are are part of the waste stream of ice-cream factories, and soon, at a Ben and Jerry’s factory in the Netherlands, they’ll all help to produce green power. How? Via billions of “little bugs” that gobble up these goodies and produce biogas.
A green bio-digester–developed by Paques and which has already undergone a successful test period–is slated for installation at a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Hellendoorn run by Unilever. The digester, known as BIOPAQAFR (mentioned via TreeHugger), is unique in that the micro-organisms it uses are able to tackle both easily degradable materials and more problematic ones, such as fats and oils, in one compact reactor, whereas a conventional system requires multiple steps.
The biogas energy produced by this reactor is expected to account for 40 percent of the factory’s green energy requirements under EU/Netherlands law. It is expected to become operational by mid 2011. Unilever is said to be one of the first companies worldwide with such a bio-digester.
No word yet on whether such tech is planned for Ben & Jerry’s factories in the U.S.