You moo-st be joking! Platform generates power from cheese

28th October 2016
Posted By : Alice Matthews
You moo-st be joking! Platform generates power from cheese

An anaerobic digestion plant built by Lake District Biogas at First Milk’s Aspatria creamery site in Cumbria has been installed to generate bio-methane. It is producing over £3m per year in cost savings, while supplying up to 25% of the creamery’s energy requirements. Providing full control and visualisation of the system is a Movicon SCADA solution provided by Products4Automation.

With four creameries around the country, First Milk is the UK’s only major dairy company owned by British farming families. It supplies the retail, food service and milk markets with a wide range of dairy products and ingredients, including a number of regional cheeses. Most recently First Milk has launched the Lake District Cheese Company, producing a range of premium Cumbria cheddar from its creamery in Aspatria, Cumbria.

Committed to minimising its environmental impact and lowering its energy requirements, First Milk has long had an aerobic plant at the Aspatria facility. However when the company faced the need to upgrade in order to reduce effluent treatment costs and lower its carbon footprint, it investigated the potential for an on-site anaerobic digestion plant for its production residues. First Milk worked with funding partners to set up Lake District Biogas to own and operate the plant.

The result of this was the installation of an anaerobic digestion plant, designed and commissioned by Clearfleau, a leading British provider of on-site treatment solutions for the food and beverage sector. The process takes feedstock from the creamery, comprising low strength wash waters such as process rinses, supplemented by cheese production residue. This liquid is pumped into the anaerobic digestion plant from the creamery where it is converted into biogas, which is stored in a gas dome until it is required. It is then fed into a membrane based upgrade unit that removes carbon dioxide from the gas to produce bio-methane.

A key consideration in the design of the plant was the choice of control system, and Clearfleau opted for the Movicon SCADA solution provided by Products4Automation (P4A), with the control and visualisation platform developed and installed by Tritec Systems. Project Coordinator for Tritec, Laurence Brown commented: “Clearfleau opted for Movicon over a number of competing solutions due to its excellent value for money yet high level of capability."

“Movicon also offered the benefits of easy to use web clients, which simplified the route to remote control and visualisation. Additionally it provided a product that could be reused on multiple hardware platforms, providing a simple path for future upgrades.”

Movicon SCADA is a powerful, stable, easy to use and easy to expand platform with advanced features for control and visualisation. Guaranteeing the reliability needed for any mission critical application, from small HMI to large SCADA servers, it is based on open XML standards and offers built in features such as secure web services and good database support.

The result of the development at the Aspatria site is the first on-site anaerobic digestion plant in the dairy industry in Europe to feed bio-methane into the gas grid that is generated entirely from its own residues.

Operated at the site for Lake District Biogas by Clearfleau, at full capacity the plant treats 1650m3 per day of process effluent and cheese residues, generating around 5MW of thermal energy.

The plant produces 1000m3 of biogas per hour, 80% of which is upgraded to bio-methane for injection into the national gas grid. At least 60% of the bio-methane will be used in the creamery for steam generation, with the rest being available to others on the grid.

For First Milk the result of the plant is reduced energy costs and lower off-site disposal costs, leading to a reduced carbon footprint. First Milk has been able to generate value from its residues, while boosting sustainability and reducing operational costs.

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