Greener Scotland: Distillery venture and Heriot-Watt team up to 'repurpose and reuse' CO2

The company behind a new distillery being built near Greenock has teamed up with Heriot-Watt University to explore new carbon reducing technologies.

Ardgowan Distillery is scheduled to open its new plant in 2024. Through use of energy efficient technologies and operations, it aims to achieve carbon-neutral operation ahead of the Scotch Whisky Association’s 2030 deadline.

The distillery has partnered with Heriot-Watt’s International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD) and engineering provider Briggs of Burton to develop new technologies to repurpose and reuse carbon dioxide.

Close to 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced by Scottish malt and grain distilleries and breweries every year.

Whisky washbacks, used in distilleries as fermentation vessels, are generally fitted with CO2 extractors but this CO2 is rarely collected. The North British Distillery is one of the notable exceptions, producing CO2 for the beverage industry.

Heriot-Watt’s expertise across engineering and distilled spirits will help explore and validate a wider range of carbon reduction technologies.

Jessica Skelton from Ardgowan Distillery Company said: “The major industry players have the scale and resources to achieve their sustainability objectives. However, this research is so vital because it will provide practical guidance and technologies at a scale that’s within the reach of the many independent companies looking to capture and reuse biogenic CO2.

“It could also support companies in other markets. Whisky producers in Canada, the US and Japan often look to the Scotch whisky industry as leaders in production and operational change.”

The project team will create CO2 repurpose and reuse technologies to support sustainability across the industry.

Dawn Maskell, head of the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University, said: “This project provides both leadership and practical solutions for distillers, brewers and other beverage manufacturers as they strive to address their net zero challenges.

“Through this research we’ll be creating suitable technologies for the wider industry, especially those that operate on a smaller scale. Current systems can be less economical and challenging to implement and we look forward to changing that.”

Scott Davies, head of marketing at Briggs of Burton, added: “Both Ardgowan and Briggs of Burton will greatly benefit from research conducted by Heriot-Watt University, providing an independent perspective and broader scope when identifying opportunities across the overall malt whisky production process and its supply chain.”

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