As the UK bakes in a rare heatwave, an experimental biogas plant in northern England has proved that chocolate ice cream is a more efficient source of green energy than strawberry or vanilla.
The project to convert confectionary waste into energy was undertaken by R&R, one of the UK’s largest producers of ice cream, at its factory in Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire.
The plant makes own-label products for supermarkets, and supplies bigger brands such as Nestlé and Rowntree’s.
Its biogas plant was built by a consortium of Iona Capital and resource management company Veolia, in which ice cream waste is turned into biogas for the National Grid.
The waste, produced by cleaning production lines, is particularly suitable for anaerobic digestion (AD) because it consists of a high-calorie sludge of sugar, fat and protein.
Veolia found that chocolate ice cream provides 10% more energy than vanilla, and 20% more energy than strawberry.
Estelle Brachlianoff, senior vice president of Veolia UK, commented in a press release: "This project is a prime example of using creative thinking to turn waste into green energy. It’s innovation like this that is needed to ensure the UK meets the Government’s 2020 targets, and something we’re hoping to build on."
Mike Dunn, director of Iona Capital, added: "Green infrastructure has the government’s backing and it is an area that we are seeing more and more investors taking an interest in.
"This is especially true with local authority and public sector pension funds who want to show their members they are investing responsibly."
The raw material that goes into this facility would otherwise be discarded and sent to landfill, now it is not only avoiding landfill but the by-product that is leftover at the end of the AD process is a nutrient rich fertiliser that can be distributed to farms to improve crop production.
The Leeming facility, which is one of the largest gas-to-grid energy plants in the UK, is now fully functional, and will contribute to the government’s target for 20% of the UK’s energy generation to come from green energy by 2020.
Image via Pixabay