A team of researchers are working on a way to convert acid whey from yoghurt production to fuel some of the world's biggest airplanes.
Lars Angenent, senior author of the study and professor at Cornell University and the University of Tübingen, said: "To be sustainable, you want to convert waste streams where they are made, and upstate New York is where the cows are, where the dairy farmers are, and where the Greek yogurt craze began in the United States. That's a lot of acid whey that has to be driven to faraway locations for land application, but we want to produce valuable chemicals from it instead.
"The agricultural market might seem smaller, but it has a very large carbon footprint and turning acid whey into a feedstock that animals can eat is an important example of the closed cycles that we need in a sustainable society. The fuel market, of course, operates at a lower price but its demand is virtually unlimited."
And now they are working on scaling up the process whilst still making sure it is in an economical way.
Angenent added: "There is much more that can be done to optimise the extraction process and to scale up in an economical way. We can also learn more about the nature of the microbiomes and the biology involved and start investigating whether this technology can be translated to other waste streams."