UK-based Clearfleau has commissioned an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant at First Milk’s cheese creamery in Aspatria, Cumbria.


Built for Lake District Biogas, the £10m plant is designed to process creamery residues from First Milk’s Aspatria creamery site to generated bio-methane.

The AD facility features Clearfleau’s advanced technology to convert the creamery’s wash water and whey permeate into bio-methane which will be used by the factory and the local gas grid network.

Lake District Biogas chairman Gordon Archer said: "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."

Said to be the largest on-site AD plant in the European dairy sector, the plant is capable processing 1,650m3 per day of process effluent and can generate around 5MW of thermal energy.

First Milk has earlier selected Lake District Biogas to manage the project. LDB later commissioned Clearfleau to build and operate the bio-energy plant.

As part of the project, Clearfleau initially upgraded the existing aerobic plant to reduce levels of phosphate in First Milk’s effluent, which is discharged to the nearby River Ellen.

The plant is designed to produce 1000m3 of biogas per hour, of which over 80% will be upgraded to feed into the national grid.

About 60% of the bio-methane generated by the facility will be used in the creamery for steam generation while the remaining is used by local businesses and households in Aspatria.

Clearfleau CEO Craig Chapman said: "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."

Image: The Lake District biogas plant in Cumbria. Photo: courtesy of Clearfleau Limited.