Protium brings emissions-free distilling to Scotland

By Dominic Ellis
Protium and ITPEnergised confirm hydrogen technology patented by Jericho Energy Ventures will help decarbonise Bruichladdich Distillery's operations

Protium and project partner ITPEnergised have confirmed that hydrogen technology patented by Jericho Energy Ventures will help decarbonise Bruichladdich Distillery’s (Bruichladdich) operations following an extensive feasibility study earlier this year.

Led by Protium, the pilot project will see innovative hydrogen combustion technology installed to heat the stills used to create Bruichladdich’s Scotch, as well as their artisanal gin, The Botanist, thus removing a major contributor to the brand’s overall carbon emissions. 

The announcement marks a significant step forward in Bruichladdich’s bold ambition to decarbonise their 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 is a vital step towards long term decarbonisation. 

 The DCC operates with no smokestack and zero greenhouse gas emissions and was identified by the Food and Drink Federation in their 2020 Net Zero report as a key technology for decarbonisation; its successful deployment will provide an example for distilleries across the globe to follow suit in reducing their carbon footprint.

Dubbed 'HyLaddie', the project 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, 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. 

Chris Jackson, CEO of Protium, said: "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.”

Douglas Taylor, CEO of Bruichladdich Distillery, said sustainability is in its DNA and the funding for HyLaddie is a huge step towards its ambition of full decarbonisation.

“Many distilleries across Scotland are making serious steps forward in decarbonising their energy requirements, and we fully believe that 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 the Scotch Whisky Association's targets of net zero by 2040.”

The funding of £2.65m comes from the Green Distilleries Competition, funded through the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Net Zero Innovation Portfolio and follows an initial feasibility study completed last spring. Phase 2 will be completed by Summer 2023 subject to government funding.

It will allow Protium to install an on‐site Dynamic Combustion Chamber (DCC), a zero-emission hydrogen boiler patented by Jericho Energy Ventures’ wholly owned subsidiary Hydrogen Technologies and licenced to Protium’s subsidiary, Deuterium, as a mechanism to meet heating requirements.

Brian Williamson, CEO of Jericho, said: "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 game-changing zero-emission technology.” 

Protium recently announced a ground-breaking project with Budweiser Brewing Group as well as a string of announcements demonstrating growth and impact – including their 40GW flagship project in Teesside and their recent partnership with Petrofac.


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