Supercritical secures government funding: Whisky and hydrogen - an ideal pairing
Updated: Jan 12
Supercritical has been awarded £53,000 grant funding from BEIS (Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) to support a feasibility study into their novel water electrolysis technology’s ability to decarbonise the distillery sector. With their design, capable of operating at high temperatures and pressure, Supercritical aims to disrupt the hydrogen market with their high efficiency, low cost product.
The electrolysis system will produce hydrogen on site at unparalleled efficiency and minimal cost with renewable power supported by waste heat from their partner distillery. The green hydrogen will be looped back into the distillery's heat or power system to minimise its reliance on fossil fuels, demonstrating a pathway for the distillery to become a zero-carbon facility reliant only on its local natural resources. The demonstration will be the first of its kind, paving the way for distilleries and other industries across the UK and beyond to benefit.
Supercritical will lead an esteemed group to produce the feasibility study which will be submitted to BEIS in advance of potential multi-million pound follow-on funding which would see a demonstrator unit built and deployed. Supercritical will work closely with Beam Suntory as well as the Centre for Process Innovation, Xodus Group, DNV GL and Flex Marine Power to craft an in-depth and well-rounded report that will be published in early Q2 2021 under the project name of WhiskHy. The Green Distillery Competition aims to kick-start the development of decarbonisation technologies across the distillation industry. The aim is to identify, support and then develop credible innovative fuel switching technologies/enabling technologies bringing about a step change in their development. It is to support the development of technologies that are not yet commercial rather than supporting ongoing decarbonisation across the distilleries sector. The ultimate objective is to trial the technologies at pilot scale.
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 with £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. The most energy intensive part of the distillation industry is the 122 whisky distilleries (around 7x more energy intensive than gin distilleries) which directly produced around 530,000 tCO2e/y in 2018.1
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 any harmful emissions. It offers a unique ability to help transition heavy industry to a net zero status.
Matt Bird (CEO, Supercritical) added:
“ For our innovative technology to be recognised to have the potential to decarbonise an entire industry is exciting and to have the opportunity to develop the idea with such esteemed partners is a privilege “
Luke Tan (CPO, Supercritical) added:
“ We identified that the biggest opportunity with the production of hydrogen with zero emissions, was to significantly increase the efficiency compared to the traditional technology, our new approach does just that “
Alistair Longwell (Senior Manager – Scotch Distillation & Maturation Operations, Beam Suntory) added:
“ As the Scotch Whisky Sector continues on its ambitious journey towards full decarbonisation, Beam Suntory are delighted to support this innovative project aimed at unlocking the potential for a sustainable, renewable and flexible primary energy source “
About Supercritical Solutions LTD
UK based clean technology company Supercritical has innovative technology that directly addresses decarbonisation for a better planet, through the ongoing development of the world's most efficient electrolyser, producing low cost hydrogen with zero emissions.
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.
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
As a world leader in premium spirits, Beam Suntory is inspiring human connections as consumers from all corners of the globe call for our brands which include: the iconic Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbon brands; Suntory whisky Kakubin; Courvoisier cognac; as well as world renowned premium brands including Knob Creek and Basil Hayden’s bourbon; Yamazaki, Hakushu, Hibiki and Toki Japanese whiskies; Teacher’s, Auchentoshan, Bowmore, Glen Garioch, Laphroaig and The Ardmore Scotch whiskies; Canadian Club whisky; Hornitos and Sauza tequila; EFFEN, Haku and Pinnacle vodka; Sipsmith, Larios and Roku gin; and Midori liqueur.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Beam Suntory is a subsidiary of Suntory Holdings Limited of Japan. As a global leader in both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages industry, Suntory Group offers a uniquely diverse portfolio of products from premium spirits, beer and wine to brewed teas, bottled water, carbonated soft drinks, ready-to-drink coffee and energy drinks, along with health and wellness products.
Founded as a family-owned business in 1899 in Osaka, Japan, Suntory Group has grown into a global company operating throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania with an annual revenue (excluding excise taxes) of $21.0 billion in 2019. Suntory is driven by Yatte Minahare - the spirit of bold ambition. Good corporate citizenship and social responsibility are central to our business, and fundamental to our culture. We protect water and the environment, support our communities, and promote responsible consumption of our products – every day.
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 DNV GL
We are the world's leading classification society and a recognized 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.
About Xodus Group
We are a leading global energy consultancy. We help our clients overcome challenges, add value to opportunity and maximise their return on investment, responsibly. Our values of trust, responsibility and excellence underpin our vision. They are at the heart of decision making and inform our future strategy.
About Flex Marine Power
At Flex Marine Power we are creating tidal turbine technology which will enable coastal communities to thrive through harnessing the power of the sea. Our approach puts the significant opportunities associated with tidal stream resources within the reach of local people. Our vision is to enable a global network of Community-Embedded-Tidal energy projects - each generating local value and opportunities in the form of jobs, business opportunities, and green sustainable energy.
Flex Marine Power was awarded “Top 300 UK tech start-up" from GrowthMinds Top 300 UK tech start-ups to watch out for in 2020.
About the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) brings together
responsibilities for business, industrial strategy, science, innovation, energy, and climate change.
The Green Distilleries competition supports the government’s approach for a clean, resilient
recovery across the UK to support the creation of new jobs in the distillery sector.
In the 2020 Budget, £10m was allocated to R&D to help decarbonise UK distilleries.
The funding for the Green Distilleries competition is part of the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation
Portfolio which aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative low-carbon
technologies, systems and processes in the power, buildings and industrial sectors.