£149k for bid to use hydrogen from renewables to produce gin

Edinburgh Napier will play a key role in an investigation into the feasibility of hydrogen as a fuel to decarbonise the distilling process.

The HySpirits project has been awarded £148,600 by the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to conduct the study at The Orkney Distillery.

The project will investigate the development of a thermal fluid heater system to operate with hydrogen as the combustion fuel within the distilling process. This system will remove the need to use fossil fuels such as kerosene and liquid petroleum gas.

HySpirits brings together Edinburgh Napier, project lead the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and Orkney Distilling Ltd. The university will assess the distillery site and develop the hydrogen system design and specification. 

HySpirits was awarded funding after successfully competing in the Industrial Fuel Switching Competition run by BEIS earlier this year, which aims to stimulate early investment in fuel switching processes and technologies.

The competition offers funding for feasibility studies into developing technologies to enable the use of a low-carbon fuel across industrial processes.

The winners were announced by Lord Duncan, Climate Change Minister. He said: “Using the power of hydrogen could help cut emissions, create jobs and make industrial processes cleaner and greener, benefitting the whole economy as we work towards net zero by 2050.   

“This innovative project from HySprits/EMEC will help our efforts to roll out hydrogen at scale by the 2030s – a crucial step towards the end of the UK’s contribution to global warming.” 

Hydrogen has been identified as an alternative fuel for energy intensive industrial processes, such as distilleries.

If the technology and business case detailed in the feasibility study proves viable, this offers a substantial decarbonisation opportunity for the wider industry and The Orkney Distillery could become the world’s first hydrogen-fuelled distillery.

It is hoped that the findings of this study can be replicated across the sector with the added benefit that the technology will be designed to be retrofitted into existing infrastructure.

Jon Clipsham, Hydrogen Manager at EMEC, said: “We’re proud to be partnering with Orkney Distilling Ltd and Edinburgh Napier University on this transformational project

“The HySpirits project blends tradition with innovation. Decarbonising the distilling process with green hydrogen derived from local renewables is a great example of the creative ways Orkney is addressing the challenges of the energy transition.”

Professor John Currie, Director of the Scottish Energy Centre at Edinburgh Napier, said: “Industrial fuel switching in order to lower carbon emissions provides a significant challenge, particularly in the food and drink sector.

“This project has brought together a partnership which has enabled the development and exploitation of a readily-deployable hydrogen technology which can make a significant impact across the process industries in order to help achieve our global objectives.”

Stephen Kemp, Director of Orkney Distilling Ltd, said:This collaboration with EMEC and Edinburgh Napier University is incredibly exciting, and a world first for the industry.”

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