Biotechnological Utilization with a Focus on Anaerobic Treatment of Cheese Whey: Current Status and Prospects
Cheese whey utilization is of major concern nowadays. Its high organic matter content, in combination with the high volumes produced and limited treatment options make cheese whey a serious environmental problem. However, the potential production of biogas (methane), hydrogen or other marketable products with a simultaneous high COD reduction through appropriate treatment proves that cheese whey must be considered as an energy resource rather than a pollutant. The presence of biodegradable components in the cheese whey coupled with the advantages of anaerobic digestion processes over other treatment methods makes anaerobic digestion an attractive and suitable treatment option. This paper intends to review the most representative applications of anaerobic treatment of cheese whey currently being exploited and under research. Moreover, an effort has been made to categorize the common characteristics of the various research efforts and find a comparative basis, as far as their results are concerned. In addition, a number of dairy industries already using such anaerobic digestion systems are presented.