With the aim of valorising waste in the dairy processing industry, AgriChemWhey is testing the techno-economic viability of converting agriculture and agri-food waste into sustainable lactic acid through innovative technology at the first-of-a-kind biorefinery.
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.
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 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 lactic acid 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.