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Energy from Whisky Co-Products

Whisky Glass

The production of whisky is a major industry in Scotland. Exports alone are worth around £3 billion annually. However whisky production is also an energy intensive process. In 2008 the industry used just over 3.6 billion kWh of primary energy, equivalent to about 1.5% of Scotland’s total demand.

To minimise energy costs and reduce emissions further, the industry therefore plans to exploit alternative energy sources. It aims to increase the proportion of energy derived from non-fossil fuel sources from 3% in 2008 to 20% by 2020.

A potential source of alternative energy is provided by the co-products from the distillation process itself. The first is draff or spent grain – the remnants of the milled, malted barley or grain after the soluble starches have been extracted. The others are Pot Ale and Lees – the liquid left in the stills after distillation. These co-products have historically been used to produce animal feed but shifts in agricultural practices and rising energy prices mean that other uses are now being investigated.

This project will investigate the potential energy production from these co-products and how best to integrate this with the energy demands of a small scale malt whisky distillery.