£2.65m green hydrogen project aims to advance emissions-free distilling ambitions

Hydrogen at Islay distillery

A new and seemingly ground-breaking hydrogen combustion technology is to be trialled at Bruichladdich Distillery’s operations on Islay.

UK based green-hydrogen firm Protium is working with partner ITPEnergised (ITPE) on the pilot project, which received the go-ahead on 24 November. Described as a “revolutionary technology”, the Dynamic Combustion Chamber (DCC™), patented by Jericho Energy Ventures, is being deployed in a bid to advance efforts to decarbonise Bruichladdich Distillery’s (Bruichladdich) operations following an extensive feasibility study during Q1 2021.

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

The announcement marks a further step in Bruichladdich’s ambitions to decarbonise its distillation process by 2025, and the initiative has received £2.65m of government funding. 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, says Protium.

The method
The DCC™* operates with no smokestack and seemingly zero greenhouse gas emissions and was identified by the Food and Drink Federation in its 2020 Net Zero report as a key technology for decarbonisation. Protium said 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, says Protium, 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.

Potential for other applications
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. It is suggested that 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, commented, “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.”

Also commenting on the project, Douglas Taylor, CEO of Bruichladdich Distillery, said: “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 in the spring of 2021. It will allow Protium to install an on‐site Dynamic Combustion Chamber™ (DCC™), a zero-emission hydrogen boiler patented by Jericho Energy Ventures’ (TSX-V: JEV; OTC: JROOF) wholly owned subsidiary Hydrogen Technologies LLC and licenced to Protium’s subsidiary, Deuterium, as a mechanism to meet heating requirements.

Brian Williamson, CEO of Jericho, commented, “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 has also recently announced a project with Budweiser Brewing Group, as well as a string of announcements which the firm says demonstrate growth and impact – including a 40GW flagship project in Teesside and a recent partnership with Petrofac.

Phase 2 will be completed by Summer 2023 subject to government funding.