Gas Made From Cheese To Heat Hundreds Of U.K. Homes

Wedges of cheddar cheese at the Fiscalini Cheese Company in the U.S., October 26, 2006. A U.K. company has now found another way for people to enjoy cheese. Justin Sullivan/Getty

Gas made from cheese will heat almost 2,000 U.K homes as of next month.

A government-backed green energy plant will start producing gas from cheddar manufacturing waste. As a result, houses in the north west county of Cumbria will be heated using biogas produced from the cheese-making process, The Telegraph reports.

Whey and other residue from cheese production, which runs at the Lake District Creamery, will be processed into biogas and fed into the national supply grid.

The whey residues left over from the cheese-making are mixed together with water, that is used to clean down equipment, inside a giant tank. Bacteria then feed on the fats and sugars in the cheese residues, producing a "biogas"—a mixture of methane and other gases.

According to the company that built the plant, Clearfleau, the total amount of gas that will be fed into the grid each year would meet the needs of 4000 homes. But, about 60 percent of that will be used for the creamery's own use, leaving the equivalent of 1600 homes' annual gas usage circulating to homes and businesses in rural Cumbria.

Developer Lake Districts Biogas is funding the project, and will receive about £2 million ($2.85 million) a year in government subsidies.

Gordon Archer, Chairman of Lake District Biogas says: "Completion of this £10 million ($14 million) project on time, given the weather conditions in Cumbria this winter, has been a major achievement for the project team and Clearfleau.

"This is the largest AD plant on a dairy processing site in Europe dedicated to handling the residual materials from the cheese making process and we look forward to working with Clearfleau on future projects."

Craig Chapman CEO of Clearfleau Limited says of the intitiave: "Dairy processors can generate value from their residues with a better return on investment than for other more conventional treatment and disposal options.

"This project, generating biogas solely from creamery residues is based on British engineering and is transforming the way in which the dairy industry manages its residues.

"This shows how sustainability can be an integral part of our food supply chain. We are looking at other dairy projects as more companies realise the energy potential of their residues."