EMEC to pursue hydrogen heating in distilling industry


The European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) is launching a collaboration with the Highland Park and Orkney Distillery to pursue renewable hydrogen heating as a renewable fuel option for decarbonization in the distilling industry.

The HySpirits 2 project obtained £58,781 of funding from the UK Government’s Chamber of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for a feasibility study to explore a variety of technologies that would enable the use of green hydrogen as fuel in the distillation method.

Driven by the European Marine Energy Center (EMEC), HySpirits 2 brings together leading business members, including Edrington’s multinational distillery company, founders of the Highland Park distillery, and Orkney Distilling local craft distillery. Both partners have deep sector-specific expertise and can provide input to end-user data as well as facilitate the implementation of a market-based roll-out plan.

Financing for the project was provided by the BEIS Green Distilleries Competition, a £10 million fund to support UK distilleries decarbonize through creative fuel switching ventures, including those based on low-carbon fuels such as hydrogen. Phase 1 of the competition focuses on technical viability, while Phase 2 of the initiative focuses on real-world technology presentations for chosen projects.

“Building back greener from the pandemic is something we can all raise a toast to. Every business can play a part in the green industrial revolution and this funding will allow UK distilleries to lead the way by making their production cleaner while also creating jobs.”

Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The grant is focused on the first HySpirits project completed last year, which explored the possibility of using a hydrogen fuelled thermal fluid heating solution to decarbonize the distillation process in The Orkney Distillery. HySpirits 2 will draw on this work, broadening the inquiry by evaluating four separate infrastructure pathways to promote green hydrogen fuel switching in the distilling field.

The technologies to be assessed within the project include: thermal fluid technology, steam technology, direct combustion technology and dual fuel technology. Once tested, the best application pathway will be chosen and used by the consortium to design a test project to be considered for Phase 2 funding to show the solution in a real-world setting.

“HySpirits 2 is a really exciting project, offering us the opportunity to evaluate innovative applications for green hydrogen in the decarbonisation of distilling, which is a sector of great importance to the economy in Scotland, and within Orkney.

“Hydrogen offers a potentially very compelling alternative fuel for producing high grade heat in industry. With many distilleries located in remote areas off the natural gas network and using fuel oils to generate process heat for malting and distilling, there is great scope for applying the findings from our project to a cross section of the wider industry.

“We look forward to working with Highland Park and Orkney Distilling Ltd, building on learnings from our first HySpirits project, to continue to support decarbonisation in the distilling sector.”

James Walker, hydrogen manager at EMEC.

“The Scotch Whisky industry is committed to a range of challenging measures and targets to become Net Zero by 2040, so we are really pleased to be part of this exciting collaboration with EMEC in Orkney.”

Jason R. Craig, global brand director at Highland Park.

“Orcadians have been at the forefront of energy innovation now for generations, and we are extremely pleased to be a part of this further Orcadian collaboration which will serve to strengthen connections between EMEC’s ground-breaking green hydrogen development and the local distillery sector.”

Stephen Kemp, director of Orkney Distilling. 

“Industrial fuel switching, in order to lower carbon emissions, provides a significant challenge, particularly in the food and drink sector. This project brings together a partnership which will focus on assessing a range of viable technology options that give the greatest emissions reductions for distillers. Ensuring commercial viability through to a fully sustainable end product will lay the path towards the future of green distilling.”

Professor John Currie, director of the Scottish Energy Center at Edinburgh Napier University.
Nedim Husomanovic

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