Ben & Jerry’s Becomes Biofuel Source

Milk, cream, proteins, syrups and pieces of fruit–all are are part of the waste stream of ice-cream factories, and soon, at a Ben and Jerry’s factory in the Netherlands, they’ll all help to produce green power. How? Via billions of “little bugs” that gobble up these goodies and produce biogas.

A green bio-digester–developed by Paques and which has already undergone a successful test period–is slated for installation at a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Hellendoorn run by Unilever.  The digester, known as BIOPAQAFR (mentioned via TreeHugger), is unique in that the micro-organisms it uses are able to tackle both easily degradable materials and more problematic ones, such as fats and oils, in one compact reactor, whereas a conventional system requires multiple steps.

Ben and Jerry's Bio-Digester

image via Paques

The biogas energy produced by this reactor is expected to account for 40 percent of the factory’s green energy requirements under EU/Netherlands law. It is expected to become operational by mid 2011. Unilever is said to be one of the first companies worldwide with such a bio-digester.

No word yet on whether such tech is planned for Ben & Jerry’s factories in the U.S.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.