Ardgowan Distillery announced the appointment of Briggs of Burton in October 2021 last year to lead the design, build and engineering of their carbon negative distillery. Now, both Ardgowan and Briggs have joined forces with Heriot Watt University’s International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD) exploring new carbon reducing technologies.
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. However, the high costs and multiple challenges involved in using the existing technology makes it difficult for smaller companies to use.
Ardgowan produces 755,000 kg of CO2 every year from fermentation processes. However plans are in place to use Briggs’ proven technologies to drive down carbon emissions. This includes the use of high temperature heat pumps.
Heriot-Watt University’s expertise across engineering and distilled spirits, will be able to explore and validate a wider range of carbon reduction technologies. The Ardgowan project is also designed to overlap with MSc Brewing and Distilling projects at the University. Regardless of scale, this will expand the range of strategies explored and provide some facts about the various routes the industry could take.
Scott Davies, Head of Marketing commented:
“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. The Ardgowan Distillery is being designed to accept process developments through its modular construction. This means research conducted through this partnership can be directly adopted at the distillery, enabling Ardgowan to continuously assess and seek to reduce its carbon impact from the outset. As a Heriot-Watt alumni, it’s a great opportunity to help give back to the next generation of brewing and distilling engineers and scientists.”
The project will be based at the ICBD at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus. The ICBD has access to its own pilot brewing, fermentation, and distillation facilities with labs for all aspects of brewing and distilling research including analytical capabilities.
The research is funded through the Food and Drink Net Zero Challenge fund, which was set up by Interface and the Scotland Food and Drink Partnership to support Scotland’s food and drink businesses as part of the Recovery Plan funded by the Scottish Government.
Each funded project is designed to accelerate businesses on the journey towards net zero and improve their environmental sustainability, utilising the world class knowledge base and facilities across Scottish universities, research institutes and colleges. The collaboration will update the academic community and wider industry on findings to encourage widespread adoption and impact.