Whisky AD plant wins biogas award

An anaerobic digestion plant developed by HydroThane UK and the North British Distillery, in partnership with biogas digester company Ener-G, has received an industry award.

The AD plant generates up to 24,000MWh of renewable energy in the form of biogas from 27,000kg per day of chemical oxygen demand.

The facility is fitted with Ener-G's 500kW combined heat and power system and 1,000kW steam boiler to convert the biogas into steam and electrical energy for use on-site. These two energy streams help reduce the distiller's reliance on fossil fuel-based energy inputs from the national gas and power grids.

The AD facility also features a by-products plant producing distillers dark grain pellets for animal feed.

The £6 million (€6.9 million) green technology project has reduced the Edinburgh, Scotland-based distillery's carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 9,000 tonnes per day – the equivalent to removing 3,000 cars from the road.

HydroThane's external circulation sludge bed anaerobic digestion technology processes a third of the post distillation liquor which helps the company reduce the load on its existing evaporation plant. This has seen an increase in productivity at the distillery, while energy demand has been reduced.

Increased output also means the company can switch between maize or wheat as the optimum raw material, depending on feedstock cost and availability.

The plant was built in three phases, the last phase being finalised in 2012. It features a water treatment plant designed and installed by MSE Systems. It uses two anaerobic bio-reactors and micro-filtration membrane technology to process the effluent stream from the AD plant.

The distillery is working with the Bio-Fertiliser Association to have the bio-solids produced from the anaerobic process accredited under PAS110.

The Scotch whisky distillery won the AD & Biogas Award for Best Integration of AD into a food and drink business.

'Our sustainability business strategy is enabling North British Distillery to make savings in terms of energy costs while at the same time reducing the environmental impact of our production process,' says David Rae, MD of North British Distillery. 'By reducing our carbon footprint we are contributing to the Scotch whisky industry's global target of sourcing 80% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2050.' 

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