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Maker's Mark Fuels Operations with Bourbon Waste

Marker's Mark has turned on a new treatment system at its Loretto, Ky., distillery, turning waste into energy for the facility.

The anaerobic digestion facility installed by waste management provider Ecovation will process stillage - the water, grain and yeast waste leftover from making bourbon - and produce a methane and carbon dioxide biogas for use in the distillery's boilers.

The stillage treatment, which was incorporated into the facility's existing wastewater treatment system, is expected to offset 15-30 percent of the distillery's natural gas use.

The $8 million system is estimated to produce 85 million BTUs a day, and will eventually produce up to 165 million BTUs a day as the distillery increases its production of bourbon from 840,000 cases to 2.2 million cases a year over the next 10 years.

Anaerobic digestion is a process in which organic materials are broken down by microorganisms. Previous to using the system, Maker's Mark would dry and ship its stillage to farmers for use as cattle feed.

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