A lot of people like to start their day with a tall glass of cold milk, and some Michigan drivers will soon be able to start their cars with one. In a roundabout way.
The Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) is collaborating with Canada’s Dairy Distillery to build a factory that turns byproducts from milk production into ethanol, which will be blended with gasoline for use in automobiles.
Dairy Distillery currently runs a facility in Almonte, Canada, that already uses the process to make a vodka it calls Vodkow.
MMPA CEO Joe Diglio told Fox News Digital that when milk is separated into skim and butterfat for use in making dairy products like ice cream and cheese, it also creates a byproduct called milk permeate whey that is high in lactose sugar, which is filtered and concentrated.
“Fermented lactose goes back to the time of Genghis Khan, who would drink kumis, fermented mare’s milk,” Dairy Distillery founder Omid McDonald said.
Dairy Distillery’s current facility in Canada makes vodka. (Dairy Distillery)
The idea to turn it into a motor fuel gained traction during the energy crisis of the 1970s, but the more cost-effective corn-based ethanol took over. The only two factories currently making ethanol this way are in Ireland and New Zealand, according to a USDA report promoting it to dairy cooperatives.
This time around, a big part of the appeal is lowering the carbon footprint of dairy production, as the permeate whey-based ethanol works as a carbon offset.
Unlike the Vodkow, which still has a hint of milk flavor, the motor fuel is 100% ethanol and identical to that made from other sources.
The factory is set to begin production in 2025 and will sell the ethanol to local blenders through brokers, which opens up a much larger market than vodka sales could support.
“We’ve gotten some interest from other dairy cooperatives around the country and think it can take off,” Diglio said.