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Dairy vodka company to make ethanol with expansion

A new factory in Constantine will produce ethanol from a dairy byproduct.

Dairy Distillery, a Canadian enterprise, will grow in Constantine in collaboration with the Michigan Milk Producers Association. The plant would be built on the same site as MMPA’s Constantine facility, which is situated on Depot Street near Water Street.

According to Omid McDonald, the creator of Dairy Distillery, the factory will employ milk permeate, a byproduct that is basically sugar water extracted from skim milk during dairy processing. The milk permeate is fermented, converted into ethanol, and then distilled.

After collaborating with the University of Ottawa to find out how to ferment the residue, Dairy Distillery began utilising milk permeate to manufacture vodka called Vodkow in 2018. During the epidemic, it began producing hand sanitizer for its local hospitals and community, according to McDonald.

The company then began exploring for alternative applications for milk permeate.

“Very early on, we realised that this problem with excess milk permeate is a problem for the dairy industry as a whole,” McDonald said. “Because there’s only so much vodka people can drink and so much of this stuff out there, we asked ourselves, ‘Well, what other high-volume uses are out there?’ That’s when we started looking at biofuel.”

About two and a half years ago, the firm met with the MMPA. Its Constantine site was producing a large amount of milk permeate and distributing it to pigs. It was seeking for a better strategy to lessen its environmental impact.

“A lot of people are critical of dairy because of its environmental impact, and we want to be a part of… the story to show that with innovation and technology, we can eliminate that impact and so people can enjoy the dairy products they love knowing that the environmental impact is minimised,” McDonald said.

The milk permeate will be routed from the dairy plant to the ethanol plant. The ethanol will subsequently be utilised in the production of gasoline.

“When this ethanol is blended with transportation fuel, what it does is it displaces oil,” McDonald said. “As a result, it keeps oil in the ground and replaces it with ethanol made from reclaimed carbon.” This provides a ‘carbon offset,’ and this ethanol will displace about 14,000 (metric) tonnes of carbon each year.”

He estimates that this accounts for around 5% of the facility’s carbon impact.

For the project, the business picked Michigan over Indiana. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation granted a request for incentives on Tuesday, including a $2 million performance-based award and a $682,500 State Essential Services Assessment exemption for 15 years. Constantine is anticipated to provide a property tax exemption.

According to McDonald, the Inflation Reduction Act also provides incentives.

“The new Inflation Reduction Act has support for green projects that are just… a magnitude larger than what we have here in Canada,” he remarked.

Dairy Distillery is now located in Almonte, Ontario. The Constantine facility will be its first in the United States.

The project is planned to bring 12 employment to the region and a $41.1 million capital expenditure. The production will begin in 2025.

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