Glanbia Ingredients to spearhead €30m European whey research project

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

A consortium of European educational establishments and businesses will be investigating whey technology. Pic:©GettyImages/titoOnz/marekuliasz
A consortium of European educational establishments and businesses will be investigating whey technology. Pic:©GettyImages/titoOnz/marekuliasz
Glanbia Ingredients is to coordinate a European Commission (EC) project called AgriChemWhey.

The €30m ($37.2m) project, ‘an integrated biorefinery for the conversion of dairy side streams to high value bio-based chemicals’, is receiving €22m ($27m) under the Bio-based Industries Joint Technology Initiative (BBI-JTI).

Whey permeate (WP) and de-lactosed whey permeate (DLP) are major side-streams of dairy processing and represent a key challenge for the dairy industry due to a lack of reliability in current disposal routes and represent a sustainability bottleneck for the expansion of milk production in Europe in the “post-milk-quota era.”

Flagship plant creation

AgriChemWhey will build a first-of-a-kind, industrial-scale biorefinery with integrated symbiotic industrial and agricultural value chains that will valorise more than 25,000 tonnes (100% dry matter) per annum of excess WP and DLP to several added value products for growing global markets including lactic acid, polylactic acid, minerals for human nutrition and bio-based fertilizers.

This will be achieved through a coordinated investment process and development path to realize the flagship plant, representing the first major industrial venture to convert residues from food processing, as second generation feedstocks, to value added bio-based products.

Other participants in the project, along with country of business and approximate EC contribution in €:

University College Dublin IRELAND​ €500,000
Galactic SA BELGIUM​ €0
The Provost, Fellows, Foundation Scholars & the Other Members of Board of the College of the Holy & Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth IRELAND​ €1m
Commercial Mushroom Producers Co-operative Society IRELAND​ €340,000
PNO Consultants Limited UK​ €300,000
GIG Karasek GMBH AUSTRIA​ €668,500
Tipperary County Council IRELAND​ €250,000
Teagasc – Agriculture & Food Development Authority IRELAND​ €700,000
Pole Greenwin BELGIUM​ €380,000
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven BELGIUM​ €650,000
EW Biotech GMBH GERMANY​ €2.1m

The plant will investigate the techno-economic viability of the innovative WP/DLP-to-lactic acid biorefinery technology, and will establish a new value chain for industrial symbiosis with other local companies for the production of high-value sustainable food and feed (including high quality mushrooms) products from other side streams, as an enhanced circular bioeconomy approach to agriculture and agri-food waste.

Developing blueprint

The EC said this offers society and industry the opportunity for greater resource efficiency - less food waste, more products from raw milk, and integration of food and non-food material production.

AgriChemWhey will also develop a blueprint of an economic sustainability concept and replication plans for other regions across Europe, thus maximizing both short- and long-term impacts, contributing towards the development of the European bioeconomy to promote rural growth, competitiveness and job creation, and aligning with European sustainability targets.

Glanbia Ingredients will receive €15m ($18.6m) from the project, which runs until December 31, 2021.

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