Major dairy cooperative Arla is transforming cow manure into vehicle-friendly fuel in a major new trial in Buckinghamshire, UK.
Arla’s initiative will see farmers send their cows’ waste to a nearby anaerobic digestion (AD) plant, where it will be broken down into clean biomethane and converted into fuel.
The trial makes Arla the first UK business to use the waste from its farms to generate power for its fleet, according to the firm. The process will also create nutrient-rich fertiliser which can be used on Arla’s farms, making it a closed-loop process.
The three-month trial will involve two special Arla tankers that have been adapted to run on biofuels, transporting milk between dairy processing sites. Together, the trucks are expected to cover approximately 90,000 kilometres and help reduce the company’s carbon impact by 80 tonnes – equivalent to 23 car journeys around the world.
Arla will use manure from 500 cows – around 190 tonnes of slurry each week – to create 27,000 kilograms of biogas to power the trial vehicles.
“Many of us recognise how valuable a cow’s milk is, but many aren’t aware that manure is just as important,” said Ian Barker, an Arla farmer involved in the trial.
“Processing cow manure in this manner provides us with a limitless source of energy, plus the digestate, or solid matter, leftover after the process makes an even richer fertiliser for my fields, so it’s a win-win.”
Graham Wilkinson, agriculture director at Arla, added: “Using manure from our farms is helping us reduce our waste and rely less on air-polluting fossil fuels, so it’s a no-brainer for us.
“With the help of our farmers and partners, we have a fully closed loop, which, at scale, could be revolutionary in helping fuel a greener future.”