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Anaerobic Digestion Process Used on Effluent from a Ben & Jerry’s (Unilever) Ice Cream Factory

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anaerobic digestion processUnilever’s ice cream factory in Holland will, it is reported, derive green energy from wastewater with a new Anaerobic Digestion Plant installation from Dutch based Anaerobic Digestion technology expert, Paques.

Unilever, together with Paques, have started the construction of a bio-digester at its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Hellendoorn, the Netherlands. The bio-digestion process, is unique in that instead of needing energy to run the process, the waste products that are released during the production of ice cream, will be converted into energy. Furthermore, this is energy which will not add to global warming at all and when it replaces the use of fossil fuel based oil, it helps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and climate change.

Update: This was originally posted on 14 January 2010.

The bio-digester using Paques patent design, will provide 40% of the ice cream factory’s green energy requirements. It has also been pointed out that Unilever has a “Sustainable Living Plan”. Just like many other big companies, tasked by government to join in with reducing impact of industry on the environment, this is aimed at reducing the production of company-wide waste, and lowering the company’s consumption of water and energy. The AD Plant will help them greatly in this.

They predicted (in 201) that the bio-digester will become operational in mid-2011, after a commissioning period.

Unilever has opted for a new type of bio-digester offered by Paques. It is called the BIOPAQ®AFR, and they report that idea is that natural micro-organisms (in this case more than 24 billion (24·10^15) little micro-organisms!) will ‘eat‘ the waste products in the factory water discharges, and convert them into methane biogas.

The wastewater will be purified by converting the waste products from ice cream production such as milk, cream, proteins, syrups and pieces of fruit into biogas.

We are told that the BIOPAQ®AFR is a new development they have achieved in the field of purification of fat-containing wastewater. Their neat act is that they will treat (digest) wastewater streams that contain fat and oil in one compact reactor, together with degradable particles.

Paques tell us that in conventional systems this is only possible by going through a number of processing stages.

The construction of the bio-digester is well underway having started in Autumn 2010, and Unilever is leading the technology, being one of the first companies worldwide to buy such a methane bio-digester.

Paques’ anaerobic water purification systems are said to produce energy from wastewater, whilst at the same time purifying the water and facilitating water reuse.

The biogas is to be produced in the purifying process is a source of green energy. Since the introduction of their first BIOPAQ® reactor in 1981, they say that through their close co-operation with their partners they have been able to develop a broad portfolio for integrated water and gas treatment. They describe Paques’ technologies as, not only inherently green but also proven to be cost-effective and reliable solutions.

Further Reading About the Anaerobic Digestion Process:

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