AgriChemWhey will seek to build a first-of-a kind, industrial-scale bio-refinery which will take by-products from the dairy processing industry – excess whey permeate (WP) and delactosed whey permeate (DLP) – and convert them into cost competitive, sustainable lactic acid.

The European Commission today announced €22m in funding for a new bio-economy research project to be led by Glanbia Ireland.

The project will explore how to convert by-products from the dairy industry to high value bio-based products including biodegradable plastics.

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said the project had its foundations in UCD’s research and innovation partnership with Glanbia Ireland, and UCD’s research expertise in social and environmental sustainability will be a significant component of the project.

She said that AgriChemWhey represents a fantastic opportunity for bioeconomy leaders to use their expertise to implement new technologies, at industrial scale, that address global challenges.

“The funding for the AgriChemWhey project, will not only stimulate regional economic growth in Co. Tipperary, but will also enhance Ireland’s position as a world leader in the development of the bioeconomy and provide the country with an opportunity to lead on issues central to achieving the UN SDGs.”

The project, called AgriChemWhey, will receive €22m in funding from the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. It is the first dairy industry project to be awarded funding under the programme. The overall value of the project is €30m with the balance of funding coming from the partners involved.

AgriChemWhey is based on technology developed and patented by Glanbia Ireland, in collaboration with University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin.

Making the announcement, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said: “AgriChemWhey is a highly innovative research project, which if successful, will serve as a flagship for Europe’s growing bio-economy, contributing towards a more resource efficient European dairy sector, with enormous potential for replication in other areas across Europe, while also providing a boost to jobs and growth in Europe’s rural economy.”

The AgriChemWhey project will take low value by-products from the dairy processing industry –excess whey permeate (WP) and delactosed whey permeate (DLP) – and convert them into cost competitive, sustainable lactic acid. Lactic acid can then be used in value-added bio-based products for growing global markets, including biodegradable plastics, bio-based fertiliser and minerals for human nutrition.

The new technology developed by Glanbia Ireland will provide both the dairy industry and wider society with an opportunity for greater resource efficiency – less food waste, more products from the same starting material (milk), and integration of food and non-food material production.

Source: Irish Independent – Farm Ireland

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