Green hydrogen to decarbonise single-malt whisky distillery

Artist's impression of green hydrogen technology installed at Bruichladdich distillery.

Zero-emission green hydrogen technology is set to decarbonise production of single-malt Scotch whisky at the world-famous Bruichladdich Distillery, on the Isle of Islay. UK-based green hydrogen energy company Protium and project partner ITPEnergised have confirmed that the innovative hydrogen technology called a Dynamic Combustion Chamber (DCC), patented by Jericho Energy Ventures, will be installed at the Hebridean island site. Dubbed Project HyLaddie, the enterprise will help demonstrate the potential for green energy, both on the island and within the wider drinks sector.

Following an extensive feasibility study in Q1 2021, the project is supported by £2.65M in UK Government funding and the next phase will see innovative hydrogen combustion technology installed to heat the stills used to create Bruichladdich’s renowned Scotch and artisanal gin, The Botanist. This new development will remove a major contributor to the brand’s overall carbon emissions. 

The announcement marks a significant step forward in Bruichladdich’s bold ambition to decarbonise its distillation process by 2025, with major funding secured to pioneer industry-first technology. The project will demonstrate the ability to switch from fossil fuels to sustainable hydrogen energy technology and represents a vital step in the long-term plan.

Identified by the Food and Drink Federation in their 2020 Net Zero report as a key technology for decarbonisation, the DCC leverages revolutionary technology and is the world’s first zero-emission megawatt-scale, closed-loop hydrogen boiler that generates high-temperature steam, using only oxygen and hydrogen that is reacted in a vacuum.

The DCC does not require a smokestack or any other energy dissipating exhaust, eliminating any emissions of CO2, NOx and SOx. The only by-product of the reaction is water that can be recycled.

Project Hyladdie, the B Corp and island community

The Project HyLaddie pilot for Bruichladdich must navigate the installation of state-of-the-art technology within a fully operational Victorian distillery on the island of Islay, just off Scotland’s west coast. As a certified B Corp, Bruichladdich continually invests in its local community and hopes the project will demonstrate the capability of hydrogen to encourage commercialisation across Islay.

Green hydrogen provides a sustainable solution for the island’s remote location and infrastructure challenges, and once Phase 2 is completed (in the summer of 2023, subject to Government funding), it is envisioned that hydrogen and oxygen will be produced from a larger commercial scale electrolyser situated offsite, that will operate alongside a new renewable energy project on the island. 

The heating technology has the potential to be integrated into other distilleries on the island and, beyond distilling, hydrogen could be used to decarbonise road freight, aviation, and other industrial processes. In keeping with Bruichladdich’s industry-leading progressive practices, HyLaddie will also set a precedent and provide an operational example for similar-sized spirits producers across the world to up their own decarbonisation initiatives. 

Commenting on receiving the green light for the project, Chris Jackson, CEO of Protium, says:

“We’re thrilled to be working together with Bruichladdich, one of our first Scottish clients, to decarbonise their distilling process and introduce hydrogen energy technology to Islay. Not only can Bruichladdich and The Botanist implement this technology to act as a beacon for sustainability in the spirits industry, but their deep community ties across Islay present an exciting opportunity to mobilise an entire island as an example for decarbonisation across the globe.”

Speaking from a client perspective, Douglas Taylor, CEO of Bruichladdich Distillery, adds:

“Sustainability is in our DNA and at the heart of everything we do. The funding for HyLaddie is a huge step towards our ambition of full decarbonisation and we can’t wait to bring the project to life with our partners at Protium and Jericho. 

“Many distilleries across Scotland are making serious steps forward in decarbonising their energy requirements, and we fully believe hydrogen has a future in the Scotch industry. Our hope is that our proof of concept can extend to commercialisation across the island, and beyond, helping us hit Scotch Whisky Association targets of net zero by 2040.”

The funding of £2.65M comes from the Green Distilleries Competition, administered by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), as part of the UK Government’s Net Zero Innovation Portfolio.

The funding will allow Protium to install an on‐site Dynamic Combustion Chamber — a zero-emission hydrogen boiler patented by Hydrogen Technologies , a wholly owned subsidiary of Jericho Energy Ventures and licensed to Protium’s subsidiary, Deuterium — as a mechanism to meet heating requirements.

Endorsement of the potential of green hydrogen technology by a premium whisky brand sends out a strong signal to the market, concludes Brian Williamson, CEO of Jericho:

“We are thrilled that the inaugural deployment of the DCC is with none-other than Remy Cointreau-owned Bruichladdich, one of the most prestigious and progressive distilleries, who shares our vision of forging a sustainable future. We look forward to working with Bruichladdich and the Protium teams to implement the ambitious decarbonisation project with our zero-emission technology.” 

Artist's impression of green hydrogen plant building in courtyard at Bruichladdich distillery.

Bruichladdich and The Botanist

Bruichladdich Distillery is located on the remote Scottish island of Islay and was built in 1881. The distillery crafts four different spirits including: Bruichladdich, unpeated Islay single-malt Scotch whisky; Port Charlotte, heavily peated Islay single-malt Scotch whisky (40PPM); Octomore, the world’s most heavily peated Scotch whisky series (80+PPM); and The Botanist — the first Islay dry gin.

Already the largest private employer on Islay, Bruichladdich Distillery matures and bottles all its single malts on the island and is due to install on-site maltings in the near future, which will enable a proportion of its annual production to be completed there, too.

The Botanist Gin is conceived, distilled and hand-crafted on Islay at Bruichladdich Distillery using 22 foraged island botanicals . A professional forager, James Donaldson, hand-picks the botanicals for the gin one by one throughout spring, summer and autumn. The botanicals are then dried carefully before being slow-simmer distilled with pure Islay spring water in a unique Lomond Still. The result is a gin crafted to speak of the locality and seasonality of Islay.

Protium and Jericho Energy Ventures

With offices in London and Caerphilly, and a growing presence in Scotland, Protium is a UK-based green hydrogen energy services company, engaged in designing, developing, financing, owning and operating green hydrogen and renewable energy infrastructure assets, to help clients achieve net zero energy emissions.

The company’s latest success on Islay follows on from recent announcements by Protium of a ground-breaking project with Budweiser Brewing Group, as well as its 40GW flagship project in Teesside and partnership with Petrofac.

Jericho Energy Ventures (TSX-V: JEV; OTC: JROOF) is focused on advancing the low-carbon energy transition with investments in hydrogen technologies, energy storage, carbon capture and new energy systems. JEV’s wholly owned subsidiary, Hydrogen Technologies, delivers patented, zero-emission boiler technology to the $30bn commercial and industrial heat and steam industry, in addition to investment in the H2U electrocatalyst and low-cost electrolyser platform.

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