A new project funded by the European Union is set to launch a pilot plant that would use an innovative method for treating dairy wastewater and whey, the EU's Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) announced on its website.
The REWAGEN project could potentially save the industry millions by dramatically reducing water and energy consumption required in conventional treatment methods. According to project coordinator Alexander Karos of Fraunhofer IGB in Germany, the technology can link dairy wastewater treatment with energy production by generating electricity through recovering hydrogen.
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Thanks to the new technology, the pilot wastewater treatment plant will be extremely energy-efficient, as it will provide part of the power needed for the process itself. It is estimated that the technology would result in a 10% decrease in energy consumption and about a 30% drop in water consumption. In addition, between 80 and 95% of the wastewater is expected to be recycled, scientists said.
Researchers believe that the method could also be applied in other sectors, such as olive processing, biodiesel production and animal slaughter. By 2016, plans are for a fully developed eco-friendly dairy wastewater treatment system to be available to other industries as well. Researchers predict that a way to separate fats and oil will also be introduced, as well as an electro-oxidation device that would allow simultaneous wastewater treatment and hydrogen recovery.