Supercritical issues feasibility study for technology at Beam Suntory’s Ardmore distillery


Ardmore Distillery - Beam Suntory
Ardmore Distillery - Beam Suntory

14th May 2021 - Supercritical Solutions Ltd (Supercritical) has successfully completed a three-month feasibility study for their green hydrogen-based decarbonisation technology at Beam Suntory’s Ardmore distillery. Supercritical’s ‘Project WhiskHy’ was one of just 17 green innovation projects to be awarded an initial grant from BEIS in January 2021. Following the feasibility study, Supercritical is now in the running for a second round of funding from BEIS to develop, deploy and scale this technology at Ardmore over the next three years.


With ‘Project WhiskHy’, Supercritical has designed the world’s first supercritical electrolyser, which would enable a distillery like Ardmore to produce and store hydrogen on site, powered only by the distillery’s wastewater and local renewable power sources. The green hydrogen can then be looped back into the distillery's heat or power system to minimise, and ultimately eliminate, its reliance on fossil fuels. Supercritical’s initial feasibility study has demonstrated a clear pathway for the Ardmore distillery to become a zero-carbon distillery, reliant only on its local natural resources, by 2040. This technology would be the first of its kind and could be deployed across distilleries of all sizes, as well as other industries.


Supercritical, in partnership with Beam Suntory, the Centre for Process Innovation, Xodus Group and DNV, has issued a comprehensive report of its findings, which has also been submitted to BEIS. An executive summary of the WhiskHy report can be downloaded from supercritical.solutions/whiskhy. Project WhiskHy is now in the process of bidding for a further grant from BEIS to allow it to build and deploy this technology at scale at the Ardmore distillery. Matt Bird, CEO at Supercritical added:


“Extracting hydrogen from the distillery wastewater using local renewable energy means we could eliminate carbon emissions from the distilling process at a lower cost than the fossil fuels used today”


Luke Tan, CPO at Supercritical added:


“The WhiskHy feasibility study was a great opportunity to demonstrate the global reach and potential for Supercritical’s technology. With Phase 2 approved, Ardmore distillery will be the first of many to benefit from our UK developed high pressure, ultra-efficient green hydrogen solution.”


Alistair Longwell, Senior Manager, Scotch Distillation & Maturation Operations at Beam Suntory, added:


“Beam Suntory is proud to support the Scotch Whisky sector’s ambitious journey towards full decarbonisation, and we are delighted to support this innovative project aimed at unlocking the potential for a sustainable, renewable and flexible primary energy source.”



Ardmore Distillery - Beam Suntory
Ardmore Distillery - Beam Suntory

Notes to Editors:


  • The Green Distilleries Competition, run by BEIS, aims to kickstart the development of new decarbonisation technologies across the distillation industry, by identifying, supporting and then developing credible innovative fuel switching technologies. The winners for Phase 2 funding will be announced in June 2021.

  • Green hydrogen offers an alternative to traditional fossil fuels. It can store renewable power for long periods of time and can be converted back into power or used for heat generation without carbon emissions. It offers a unique ability to help transition heavy industry to a net zero status.

  • It is estimated that there are over 300 distilleries across the UK. The distillery sector is estimated to have a GVA of £8.25bn with Scotch whisky providing £5.5bn, including £4.7bn through exports, making up 20% of all UK food and drink exports. There are multiple steps required in the production process from maltings through to maturation. Whisky distilleries (of which there are 122 in the UK) consume the most energy within the distillation industry (around 7x more energy intensive than gin distilleries), directly producing around 530,000 tCO2e/y in 2018.[1]

  • A 70 cl bottle of whisky could account for anywhere between 370g and 538g of Carbon Dioxide emitted from the distilling process. By connecting Supercritical’s ultra-efficient, high pressure electrolyser to local renewables, Ardmore could become a fully self sufficient distillery, reliant only on the natural resources of its immediate environment.

  • The hydrogen produced during the pilot will be injected into Ardmore’s existing boiler, which is currently powered on LPG. The existing boiler can be retrofitted with new burners to enable a full transition to hydrogen as availability of the green fuel increases.


[1] - https://www.scotch-whisky.org.uk/media/1731/swa-net-zero-report-2020-exec-summary.pdf



About Supercritical Solutions LTD

We are developing the world’s first high pressure, ultra-efficient electrolyser, for the production of Hydrogen and Oxygen from water, with zero emissions. By using heat and pressure our proprietary design allows us to exploit the benefits of supercritical water and deliver gases at over 200 bar of pressure, without the expense or challenges of hydrogen compressors.


Supercritical has had great success over their short lifetime. Founded in June 2020 from Deep Science Ventures and supported by Angel Investment and a FTSE-100. In August 2020 they were awarded funding by OGTC for the potential the technology could offer the oil and gas industry, and now recognition in the distilling industry too. Due to the versatility of the technology, conversations are taking place with multiple other hard-to-decarbonise sectors about the use of the technology.


Chief Executive: Matt Bird, has a 23+ year career, accumulating 12 years of extensive experience operating at board level in a wide variety of roles, managing budgets in excess of £100million. Most recently successfully grown and exited a start-up from an empty desk to a multi-million turnover in less than three years.


Chief Technical Officer: Mike Russ, our CTO, has a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from University of Bristol and has 7 years experience working with supercritical water reactors and fuel cell technology. He has designed, built and commissioned a new class of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell test stand in his previous role.


Chief Product Officer, Luke Tan, has a Degree in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College and 8 years experience delivering hydrogen solutions at Johnson Matthey. Working across the full rainbow of hydrogen colours, he led Business Development in their Fuel Cell division and was pivotal to the rapid growth of clean hydrogen technologies.


Chief Scientist: Gaël Gobaille-Shaw, has a PhD in catalyst design, water and CO2 electrolysis. He has published papers in CO2 catalysis and reactions in fuel cells, managed industrial research budgets and Supervised commercially funded research with world-leading catalyst manufacturer, Johnson Matthey.


To find out more visit www.supercritical.solutions


About Deep Science Ventures

Deep Science Ventures brings together teams of scientists to seize crucial opportunities and redefine industries. The company was founded to create a better method for launching science companies, one that takes a systems level view of the opportunity from day one. New companies are formed of highly technical founder-type scientists recruited to build “holy grail” ventures with the potential to redesign entire sectors.


About Beam Suntory Inc.

As a world leader in premium spirits, Beam Suntory inspires human connections. Consumers from all corners of the globe call for the company’s brands, including the iconic Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbon brands, Suntory whisky Kakubin and Courvoisier cognac, as well as world renowned premium brands including Knob Creek, Basil Hayden’s and Legent bourbon; Yamazaki, Hakushu, Hibiki and Toki Japanese whisky; Teacher’s, Ardmore, Laphroaig, Bowmore and Glen Garioch Scotch whisky; Canadian Club whisky; Hornitos and Sauza tequila; EFFEN, Haku and Pinnacle vodka; Sipsmith and Roku gin; and On The Rocks Premium Cocktails.

Beam Suntory was created in 2014 by combining the world leader in bourbon and the pioneer in Japanese whisky to form a new company with a deep heritage, passion for quality, innovative spirit and vision of Growing for Good. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Beam Suntory is a subsidiary of Suntory Holdings Limited of Japan. For more information on Beam Suntory, its brands, and its commitment to social responsibility, please visit www.beamsuntory.com and www.drinksmart.com.


About Centre for Process Innovation

CPI acts as a catalyst bringing together academia, businesses, government and investors to translate bright ideas and research into the marketplace. We do this by giving our customers access to the right experts, equipment, networks, funding and more – connecting the dots for effective innovation.

We are a leading independent technology innovation centre and a founding member of the UK Government’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult. Established in 2004, our teams tirelessly apply their many years of experience to ensure that every great invention gets the best opportunity to become a successfully marketed product or process. We work with our partners across diverse markets in the UK and around the world, driving their innovations forward and helping them to reduce the risk and cost associated with product development.


About Xodus Group

As a leading global energy consultancy, we help clients overcome challenges, add value to opportunities and maximise returns on investments, responsibly. Our values of trust, responsibility and excellence underpin our vision. They are at the heart of decision making and inform our future strategy.


In offering expert advice and solving complex problems, our multi-skilled specialists work across the energy spectrum to address industry problems. By combining technology with our knowledge, we create better business outcomes whether it is advisory, project development or in operational support. Together, we will deliver a responsible energy future - www.xodusgroup.com


Headquartered in Aberdeen, Scotland with a global operations centre in London, Xodus has offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Orkney, Egypt, Perth, Australia and Boston and Houston in the US.


About DNV

We are the world's leading classification society and a recognised advisor for the maritime industry, the technical advisor to the oil and gas industry, and we deliver world-renowned testing, certification and advisory services to the energy value chain including renewables and energy management.