The decision to build an ethanol plant near Fulton paid another small dividend this week with the official launch of Linde North America’s carbon dioxide plant.
Linde is working from an 8,000 square foot building in the far corner of the former Miller Brewing Company property. The company invested $15 million.
Thursday, company officials and the plant’s tiny staff hosted tours and a catered celebration to mark the company’s opening.
“We’re very happy to be your neighbors, to be in this community with you,” said Linde North America President Patrick Murphy. “I look forward to a very long and prosperous relationship together.” [See below for a video of a portion of his remarks, along with a gallery of photos from the event.]
The plant is tied directly to the Sunoco ethanol plant on the former Miller campus. Linde captures the carbon dioxide that is produced when corn is turned into ethanol. It liquifies the gas, pumps it into rail cars and tractor trailers and ships it to customers all over the east coast.
Carbon dioxide’s most common use is as carbonation in soft drinks. “I joke around that if you burp, you can blame it on me,” said Bruce Bolduc, who is in charge of finding supplies of CO2 for the company. Said L. Michael Treadwell, who heads the county’s economic development agency, Operation Oswego County, “We can enjoy now our favorite beverage…knowing that the bubbles are homegrown.”
The Volney plant will be the second largest supplier of carbon dioxide in the country, despite the fact that no more than 6 people will work at the facility. There will be three plant operators and three truck drivers. The plant is fully automated. The computers that control the processing of the carbon dioxide can be access by company workers from anywhere in the world. The plant can operate for up to 3 days without human interaction.
Linde’s presence is part of a deliberate strategy to tie related businesses to the ethanol plant. “It’s a big, big boost to our local and regional economy,” Treadwell told the audience at the luncheon. “We’re also optimistic that the chains from Sunoco to Linde could also spread to other opportunities for manufacturing in this business park and in the county.”
Treadwell said there are about six businesses operating in the former Miller plant, all related to the ethanol operation. He said the next step is to try to entice a dry ice manufacturer to locate here, to take advantage of the plentiful carbon dioxide. He noted that an outside group is also taking a look at the former Miller waste treatment plant. The lack of available waste treatment facilities has hampered efforts to attract new business.
Local officials cheered the news.
“Anything in the county helps the city,” said Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward. “It’s a great day for Oswego County and the town,” said State Senator Patty Ritchie.
Linde North America President Patrick Murphy:
Operation Oswego County Executive Director Michael Treadwell:
And the cutting of the ribbon, with Treadwell, Murphy and State Senator Patty Ritchie: