The dairy biorefinery: Integrating treatment process for Tunisian cheese whey valorization

Jemaa Mabrouki, Mohammed Ammar Abbassi, Besma Khiari, Salah Jellali, Antonis A. Zorpas, Mejdi Jeguirim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In order to set up a cost-efficient biorefinery in a Tunisian dairy industry, the production unit effluents are recovered. The main objective is to develop an optimum method for the production of bioethanol from whey. An energy analysis as well as environmental and economic analyses are performed for a bioethanol production plant. Four production scenarios are examined in order to determine the most provident as well as the less polluting ones. The process and cost models were developed using SuperPro Designer software which a simulation program that is able to estimate both process and economic parameters. This software uses energy and mass balances. The model can be used to assess the efficiency, the resources consumption, the profitability and the environmental impact of each scenario. The results demonstrate that the third scenario, in which a reverse osmosis procedure is added to concentrate the whey, a continuous stoichiometric reaction procedure is integrated to model the biotransformation in the fermenter and where streams are added in order to recycle the biomass, produces the highest amount of bioethanol with 1.65 MT/year but the second one (where no streams were added) is the most profitable one with revenues as high as 570 000 $/year. The corresponding cost of ethanol production is 0.271 US $ ethanol per liter. The net present value (NPV) and the return on investment (ROI) of each scenario are positive. Such result indicates that all these investments could be undertaken in order to find an eco-friendly issue for the dairy industry effluents. Cheese whey could serve as an alternative raw material for producing ethanol.

Original languageEnglish
Article number133567
Pages (from-to)133567
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2022


  • Bioethanol production
  • Cheese whey
  • Environmental investigation
  • Feasibility study
  • Optimization
  • Recuperation
  • Technical investigation
  • Whey Proteins/metabolism
  • Dairying
  • Whey/metabolism
  • Cheese
  • Ethanol/metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Cite this