Wisc. ethanol plant gets $1.7 million state loan

By Holly Jessen | October 14, 2010
Posted Nov. 12, 2010

A project to build DuBay Biofuels-Greenwood LLC, a 3 MMgy ethanol plant in Greenwood, Wisc., recently received a nearly $1.9 million funding boost. A total of $1.7 million came from a Wisconsin Energy Program loan and another $300,000 came from the city of Greenwood for land development.

DuBay Biofuels, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caseus Energy LLC, will produce ethanol from whey permeate, a cheese production waste product. Dirt work on the $8.7 million project is expected to begin in two to three weeks, once a storm water permit is finalized, said Eduard Zaydman, business development and marketing manager for Caseus Energy. The company is in the process of obtaining other necessary permits and expects the ethanol plant to be up and running in the fourth quarter of 2011.

"The resounding support of the governor's office and the Department of Commerce have been absolutely pivotal for this project to go forward," said Alex Reyter, CEO of Caseus Energy. "This funding shows what can happen when the private sector and the public sector work together to advance programs that benefit the environment, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and imported fuels and create well-paying jobs for America's workers."

The plant will produce three million pounds of dry active yeast yearly, which will be used as a dairy feedstock. "Our yeast feed is a unique product,"Zaydman said. "It is rich in protein and has a probiotic effect. The key here [is] that our product will help cattle digestion and deliver good proteins which will promote not just milk quality but general health." He added that the company would also like to eventually produce another type of high-protein feed from algae biomass at the same plant.

As the No. 1 cheese-producing state, Wisconsin is a perfect location for this type of ethanol plant, he said. In addition, the state is home to more than 1.3 million cattle. The Greenwood ethanol plant will produce enough dry active yeast to capture about 2 percent of the market share. In the future, Caseus Energy would like to own and operate additional cheese whey-to-ethanol plants. If the company were able to use its technology to process 50 percent of the whey permeate in the U.S. it would be able to produce more than 200 MMgy of ethanol, Zaydman said.

The ethanol plant will also benefit cheese producers in the form of a waste disposal solution. DuBay Biofuels will pick up the whey at area cheese plants at no cost to cheese producers. "No more land spreading, concentrating, dumping or drying," he said.

Caseus Energy has operated a demonstration plant in Stratford, Wisc., since 2004. The ethanol process has a net zero effect on land and environment. For example, it does not require any water. "Our process is based on waste disposal and that should say it all," he said.