WhiskHy, a consortium led by clean-tech start-up Supercritical in collaboration with Beam Suntory and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), has been awarded the funding in Phase 2 of the Green Distilleries Competition, which is supported through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Net Zero Innovation Portfolio.
Phase 2 follows the completion of a three-month feasibility study for Supercritical’s green hydrogen-based decarbonisation technology at Beam Suntory’s Ardmore distillery. This additional funding will enable the consortium to scale up and conduct an industrial hydrogen trial at Beam Suntory’s Glen Garioch distillery in Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire.
Matt Bird, CEO at Supercritical said, “Supercritical is thriving in today’s drive to decarbonise and leading the transition for change in the UK’s clean-tech sector. We welcome this continued support to bring our next generation electrolysis technology to the next level to help decarbonise the whisky sector in the UK, and look forward to the export opportunities that it will facilitate in zero-emission whisky as well as electrolyser technology.”
Supercritical is developing a high-pressure electrolyser to produce hydrogen and oxygen from water, with zero emissions. By using heat and pressure, Supercritical said its proprietary design allows them to exploit the benefits of supercritical water and deliver gases at over 200 bar without hydrogen compressors.
Over the course of the 21-month project, Supercritical will advance its technology and complete an industrial hydrogen trial at Beam Suntory’s Glen Garioch distillery to produce around 57,000 bottles of hydrogen-distilled whisky. It is believed that these bottles will represent the first hydrogen fired bottles of whisky created at industrial scale. The quality of the spirit will be assessed by Beam Suntory’s experts over the course of the project as the spirit matures, with finished product ready sometime after 2025.
The MTC, part of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, will support Supercritical in developing some of the core processes in the development of their novel technology.
Supercritical is one of four projects sharing over £11m to decarbonise distilling processes. Projects that have received phase 2 funding include Protium Green Solutions, who are developing a system that uses hydrogen as a fuel source rather than oil in whisky production at the Bruichladdich Distillery on the Isle of Islay. At the Arbikie Highland Estate Distillery in Inverkeilor, Locogen Ltd is developing and installing a green hydrogen energy system comprising a wind turbine, electrolyser, hydrogen storage and hydrogen boiler system.
“This funding is a welcome boost for the industry at a time when Scotch Whisky companies are already working hard to reduce their emissions,” said Karen Betts, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive. “As a result, nearly 40 per cent of the industry’s energy is now coming from renewable sources. But we know we need to go further and faster, and that’s where the Green Distilleries Competition is so critical since it supports companies in testing new technologies.”