Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) and Canadian Dairy Distillery announced a joint initiative that will transform a dairy byproduct into the world’s lowest carbon-intensity ethanol, adding to the biofuel supply for cars and trucks.
Ontario-based Dairy Distillery developed technology to transform a lactose-rich dairy byproduct, called milk permeate into vodka, aptly named Vodkow. This high value use of milk permeate caught the attention of MMPA whose Constantine, Mich., facility produces 14,000 metric tons a year that’s being used for animal feed. Looking to create more value for its dairy farmer members, MMPA partnered with Dairy Distillery to build a plant to process its milk permeate into 2.2 million gallons of ethanol. When blended with transportation fuel, the permeate ethanol will offset 14,500 metric tons of carbon a year. This offset will reduce the carbon footprint of the milk processed at Constantine by 5%.
“I've been inspired by MMPA dairy farmers and their commitment to sustainability. Using a milk byproduct to reduce the carbon footprint of dairy is an innovation that will make a significant contribution to MMPA's net zero carbon emissions goal,” explained Dairy Distillery CEO Omid McDonald.
Ethanol production at the $41 million ethanol plant is planned for early 2025. The project received $2.5 million in funding from the Michigan Strategic Fund, showing the state’s commitment to the future of clean energy.
“Constructing an ethanol-processing plant at the Constantine facility compliments our focus on sustainability and provides a progressive, unique opportunity to utilize new technologies that add value to our current processing operations while further diversifying the markets we currently serve,” MMPA President and CEO Joe Diglio said. “It’s exciting to see innovative solutions such as this facility, which lead to growth and success for our members, employees, stakeholders and our communities.”
Tim Boring, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, commented, “Projects like these are a prime example of the diversity and strength of our dairy industry and demonstrates the Whitmer Administration’s commitment to growing agriculture businesses in Michigan. In 2022, MDARD provided a $100,000 Value-Added Grant to the Michigan Milk Producers Association and Dairy Distillery in this first of its kind venture.
The department is proud to support business expansion with multi-pronged benefits – creates good-paying local jobs; opens up new markets for Michigan’s farmers to continue to thrive; lowers carbon footprints; and reduces the overall waste stream. I hope this serves as a model for others into the future.”