For centuries whiskey has warmed the throats in Scotland. Now, the waste from its production is turned into biogas to mobilize delivery trucks and reduce pollution. A novel system that aims to revitalize the economy and lower the risks of global warming.
In the north-eastern Scottish town of Dufftown, workers at the Glenfiddich Distillery dump wet barley grains – waste known as bagasse – into the back of a truck where they form a smoking heap.
This bagasse will be mixed with a yellowish liquid that looks like beer, known as “pot ale”, another residue from the manufacture of whiskey, before subjecting it to a ‘methanization’ process to produce low carbon biogas, used as a biofuel.
“Now we have vehicles that can transport our merchandise and our drinks across the country using a renewable energy source with very low carbon content “, explains the director of the plant, Kirsty Dagnan to the AFP agency.
A whiskey distillery near Glasgow, Scotland, one of the world’s leading whiskey producers. Photo: EFE
The gas produced, mainly methane, is stored in a reservoir in the yard at the edge of the street, where the company’s three adapted trucks can fill the tank, before ensuring the transport of the whiskey at all stages of its production.
The idea for this biofuel with bagasse and “pot ale” comes from researchers at Napier University in Edinburgh, who developed it in 2010.
The discovery was then praised by the environmental defense association WWF, since the fuel could be manufactured without harming forests or fauna, unlike other biofuels such as palm oil.
The three adapted trucks that use the new biofuel eliminate the emission of about 250 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Kirsty Dagnan told AFP.
Against global warming
According to William Grant & Sons, the parent company of the distillery, biogas massively reduces emissions of greenhouse gas compared to diesel and other fossil fuels.
This widely used procedure is made for the first time in a distillery to power their own trucks.
Glenfiddich Distillery’s three adapted trucks will carry whiskey from its production facility in Dufftown to bottling and conditioning plants in the west of Scotland.
The Glenfiddich Distillery, in Dufftown, Scotland.
The company plans to expand this technology to all of its 20 trucks, and over time, to the rest of its production.
“If you take into account the cost of a truck, its operation and its maintenance during its useful life, as well as the price of fuel, the cost of biogas is very similar to that of diesel”, estimates Stuart Watts, director of the distilleries of the company.
“It is a compelling case for companies like ours to use biogas trucks instead of diesel,” he added.
At the delivery site, a trucker cautiously inserts a nozzle into the gas tank. It takes more or less the same time to fill it as with diesel and the autonomy is similar, he explains enthusiastically, before starting to tour the Highlands under the rain.