Home Crop Monitoring Converting waste water from dairies to animal feed and aviation fuel

Converting waste water from dairies to animal feed and aviation fuel


Each liter of milk that goes into milk merchandise, resembling quark and Greek yogurt, or into contemporary cheeses, produces one other two liters of wastewater within the dairy manufacturing unit. This wastewater known as “acid whey” and can’t be fed to animals in massive portions due to its acidity. It’s wealthy in natural materials like lactose and should be handled or transported to farms to be used as a fertilizer by spreading it on land.

Lars Angenent, Humboldt Professor for Environmental Biotechnology on the College of Tübingen, research how these massive volumes of wastewater will be changed into useful merchandise. He used a tank with many various kinds of micro organism, referred to as a reactor microbiome.

“This microbiome is an open culture, which means bacteria from the outside environment can also enter and grow, similar to our gut microbiome. No sterilization of the tank or wastewater is necessary,” he explains. “The bacteria are selected and tricked to elongate the carbon backbone of chemicals by a process that we call chain elongation.”

Angenent explains the method: “We kept two microbiomes under different temperatures and placed them in series. The first hot microbiome (50 degrees Celsius) converts all the sugars into an intermediate acid the same acid that makes milk in your fridge taste sour if you keep it there too long.

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The second warm microbiome (30 degrees Celsius) performs chain elongation until a product is formed with six to nine carbons in a row.” Angenent’s analysis group for Environmental Biotechnology moreover investigated which micro organism had grown within the two totally different microbiomes.

“The new product could be fed back to the animal as an antimicrobial to prevent disease, or it can be further processed in a refinery into aviation fuel,” Angenent says.

As a result of the product from the bioreactor microbiome has six to 9 carbons in a row, it turns into extra oil-like and will be separated from the water it was produced in. After that it should nonetheless be purified and additional refined.

“We are making a bio-oil that the bacteria excrete,” Angenent says. “The innovation of the research is that the process does not need any other carbon-rich chemicals and only needs the waste water itself. In the past, chain elongation needed external, expensive chemicals.”

The manufacturing of bio-oil is a part of the event of a round economic system, by which all wastes are recycled into useful merchandise. “Only a completely circular economy can be sustainable with all energy coming from renewable sources, while carbon for chemicals is coming from waste CO2 and other carbon-rich wastes such as acid whey,” Angenent concludes. Extra work is now wanted to research if different forms of wastewater may also be transformed into these useful chemical compounds.


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