AD plant turns ice cream into power

A project involving ice cream manufacturer R&R Ice Cream, Iona Capital and resource management company Veolia, is turning ice cream by-product into biogas for the National Grid.

The by-product – consisting of sugar, fat and protein, which is left behind after production line cleansing – is to be transformed into biomethane, a biogas. This will then go to the National Grid to heat UK homes, thanks to the nearby anaerobic digestion (AD) facility funded by Iona Capital and operated by Veolia.

The R&R factory, based in Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire, is the UK’s largest producer of own label ice cream as well as top brands such as Nestlé’s Fab, Rowntrees’ Fruit Pastille lollies, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate sticks, Oreo ice cream and Yoomoo frozen yogurt, and now what’s left over from the production of these products will help power local homes.

The transformation process resembles the human body burning calories, with different flavours of the frozen dessert amounting to different levels of energy. It transpired that chocolate ice cream provides 10% more energy than vanilla, and 20% more energy than strawberry. And if you were to add a chocolate flake to the mix it could boost the energy efficiency by 20%.

Estelle Brachlianoff, senior executive vice president, Veolia UK & Ireland, states, “This summer will see the UK’s energy mix take on a new flavour, and a delicious one at that. And even better, now there’s less reason to feel guilty about that extra mouthful of ice cream because, rest assured, none of production by-product is going to waste, as we are busy creating renewable energy with it.

“This project is a prime example of using creative thinking to turn waste into green energy. It’s innovation like this that is needed to ensure the UK meets the government’s 2020 targets, and something we’re hoping to build on.”

Mike Dunn, director of Iona Capital, adds, “Green infrastructure has the government’s backing and it is an area that we are seeing more and more investors taking an interest in; this is especially true with local authority and public sector pension funds who want to show their members they are investing responsibly.”

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