Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The power of cheese . . . is real!

I'm sure many readers are familiar with the 'Power of Cheese' trope, exemplified by this tall tale:

"For millions of years, man thought the moon was made of cheese.
In 1969, we went there and discovered it was made of rock.
We haven't been back since.
Behold, the Power of Cheese."

Well, cheese may not actually have any particular power (except a certain addictive quality, of which I'm a victim!);  but to my surprise, it can certainly produce power.  The Telegraph reports:

Generating electricity from cheese could be the plot of an Asterix comic book, but that is exactly what is happening at a new power plant in the French Alps.

A by-product of Beaufort cheese, skimmed whey, is converted into biogas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, at the plant in Albertville, in Savoie.

Bacteria are added to the whey to produce the gas, which is then used to generate electricity that is sold to the energy company EDF.

“Whey is our fuel,” said François Decker of Valbio, the company that designed and built the power station, which opened in October. “It’s quite simply the same as the ingredient in natural yoghurt.”

. . .

It is not the first cheese-based power station, but one of the largest. Valbio built its first prototype plant 10 years ago beside an abbey where monks have made cheese since the 12th century.

Since then, about 20 other small-scale plants have been built in France, other European countries and Canada. More units are planned in Australia, Italy, Brazil and Uruguay.

There's more at the link.

What can one say except, "Whey to go!"  (Well, that and hope that they never, ever use Limburger as their raw material . . . the odor of sanctity, it ain't!  Eeewwwww!)



Anonymous said...

Cheese generates power ? My experience is it 'stops you up'. :^)

shugyosha said...

I haven't followed it enough, so I might be wrong. Still, it looks like most of the opposition in the States against biofuel comes from using grown-to-spec cereals (or algae, or...) which is different from the path here, where organic _residue_ is used. Manure, olive seeds, discards from the wood industry... Sometimes as is, sometimes as pellet, sometimes fermented as biogas. The difference in discourse is puzzling.

Take care

Anonymous said...

Good God, cheese or whey or off gassing bacteria does not produce power anymore than burning wood or coal or whatever. Conservation of energy, anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

The measure is in BTUs of the material and the efficacy of the power converting process. This particular power plant succeeds only because of its application of utilizing what had been waste by product.

Using rotting toenails as fuel would serve the same although the efficiency (due to insignificant BTUs) would be less.

I trust I made my point.

shugyosha said...

Yes... and no. Wood, as is, has a lot of wasted space and water (pellets and brickets optimize this). Transport becomes expensive, in terms of energy wasted.

"This particular plant..." Precisely my point. You would consider that "particular" while I'd say most Europeans would consider it the standard regarding biofuels. Those "let's grow crops so we can burn them" ideas west there are weird, seen from here.

Take care.