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Islay Distillery Targets Net-Zero with Hydrogen Innovation

Whiskey
19 January 2021
 

Protium Green Solutions, the UK‐based green hydrogen energy services company, has received more than £70,000 in funding to complete a feasibility study on incorporating innovative hydrogen combustion technology into Bruichladdich Distillery.

Part of the BEIS Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP), the project is the next step in assessing the application of alternative fuels at island-based Bruichladdich.

As the only Scotch distillery to be B Corp certified, Bruichladdich is validated as a business that balances profit and purpose. Building on their achievements thus far, they aim to decarbonise their production process by 2025. Feasibility studies into alternative green energy solutions have therefore been underway for some time. Exploring the potential of those sources will continue amidst this new testing, with the opportunity to be industry-leaders in hydrogen readily embraced.

 

"Green hydrogen will play a key role in decarbonising the UK manufacturing sector, particularly food and drink [production]"

 


– Christopher Jackson
CEO of Protium and Director of Deuterium

 

 

Hydrogen Power Possibilities

 

Hydrogen presents a significant opportunity for the whisky industry and Islay itself, which currently uses fuel oil to meet its heating demand. Due to the remote location of many distilleries across Scotland, its implementation is a critical step forward in enabling producers to work towards net zero and in ensuring their operations can benefit from on‐site power sources that are otherwise hindered by pre‐existing grid limitations.

The feasibility project, named HyLaddie, has been funded by the Small Business Research Initiative Green Distilleries Competition and will explore the deployment of an on‐site Deuterium Dynamic Combustion Chamber (DCC) as a viable mechanism to meet Bruichladdich’s heating requirements.

Together with ITPEnergised and Deuterium, Protium will investigate optimal system design and how the DCC can be integrated into the Victorian distillery. As with any project undertaken at Bruichladdich, the feasibility study must consider the preservation of centuries old equipment, the safeguarding of spirit quality and the impact on the local community.

The president of the Energy Institute had previously suggested that “hydrogen literacy” is key to the climate emergency response. In 2020, he commented that a lack of awareness could be a barrier to its deployment in the low carbon energy system.
 

Hoping to Set a Sustainable Redevelopment Trend

 

Intended for completion in the spring of 2021, the study is included within phase one of the NZIP Green Distilleries competition. Positive results would see project teams target phase two of funding in order to install the DCC and assess its industrial application. This proof of concept could be the vote of confidence required for similar-sized distilleries to join Bruichladdich’s ambitions of net zero. Certainly, it would demonstrate feasibility for those retrofitting operations to become more sustainable, as opposed to being originally sustainable when created.

This project marks the inaugural deployment of DCC in the UK. This revolutionary technology generates high temperature steam, using only oxygen and hydrogen that is combusted in a vacuum. The process creates water, which can be recycled and crucially, eliminates any emission of CO2, NOx and SOx.

 

Government Green Funding

 

The project follows a series of significant funding announcements from the UK Government, whose economic plans continue to support hydrogen projects. Alongside a dedicated hydrogen strategy expected in 2021, £100 billion of funds have been earmarked for spending across the UK with some likely to be awarded to green hydrogen and other clean tech projects.

In January, six regional projects across the UK have received a share of £8 million in government funding, as part of a drive to create the world’s first net zero emissions industrial zone by 2040.

Additionally, in March 2020 the Government announced a £10 million fund as a scheme established to help distillery businesses convert to more sustainable energy sources, which seeks to “kick‐start green innovation” and supports UK distilleries in switching to greener energy sources such as low-carbon hydrogen, biomass and repurposed waste.

“We are delighted to be given the opportunity to demonstrate how green hydrogen can deliver a zero emission heat solution for Bruichladdich," said Christopher Jackson, CEO of Protium and Director of Deuterium. "Green hydrogen will play a key role in decarbonising the UK manufacturing sector, particularly food and drink where Protium is well established in designing green hydrogen for industrial heat solutions. Together with ITPEnergised and Deuterium, we are eager to demonstrate how hydrogen can be used by Bruichladdich to reduce their footprint and emissions, and look forward to helping them spearhead innovation in a sector that is so rich in tradition and history.”

Allan Logan, Operations and Production Director of Bruichladdich also commented on the opportunity. “At Bruichladdich Distillery, we understand that there is real potential for a hydrogen‐based solution to decarbonise our industry. We are thrilled to have the support of Protium, Deuterium and ITPEnergised to help us assess the feasibility of employing a hydrogen fuel switching solution for our distillery – a move we hope benefits the broader industry.”

Picture: a glass of scotch whiskey.

Article written by Bailey Sparkes | Published 19 January 2021

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