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Europe: Researchers convert lactose into alcohol

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Researchers from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, have developed a patented technology which uses lactic acid bacteria to efficiently convert lactose in the whey into ethanol.

Ethanol is the type of alcohol that is found in spirits.

The researchers have formed the company Alcowhey, which aims to help smaller dairies use the patented technology to create more value from the whey they produce.

The dairies can then sell the ethanol to distillers, who can use it in the production of spirits.

“The National Food Institute has a focus on better utilization of raw materials in food production in order to minimize the waste of resources,” Professor Peter Ruhdal Jensen from the National Food Institute says.

“The new technology can create a new product from a waste product, which the dairies in a best case scenario can only make a small amount of money from, and which is often an environmental problem.”

“The new technology can create a new product from a waste product, which the dairies in a best case scenario can only make a small amount of money from, and which is often an environmental problem.”

Danish investment and development company Capnova has given Alcowhey start-up capital in the form of a DKK 0.5 million (US$82,621) loan with a view to investing a further DKK 3 million down the track.

As a DTU spin-out company, Alcowhey will continue to be based at DTU over the next couple of years.

There, the company can make use of the laboratory facilities and work in synergy with the Research Group for Microbial Biotechnology and Biorefining.

Story by Miriam Meister, DTU