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EntertainmentFood and DrinkWhisky industry and biotech innovators collaborate to find new sustainable solutions

Whisky industry and biotech innovators collaborate to find new sustainable solutions

A NEW project looking at how to extract maximum value from whisky by products will launch this week.

The Whisky Project looks at how to use whisky by products and gain value from the, instead of wasting them.

Biotech companies have come together with Zero Waste Scotland and Scotch Whisky Research Institute (SWRI).

A whisky distillery - Food and Drink News Scotland
The companies will work to together to explore further ways to extract maximum value from whisky co-products.

The project is led by the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) who have three  member companies working on the project.

Horizon Proteins, MiAlgae and BioPower Technologies, will work collaboratively to explore further ways to extract maximum value from whisky co-products.

This includes draff, which is the spent grain left in the mash-tun after the liquor, wort, has been drawn off.

As well as the husk residue left from fermentation, and pot ale, the liquid remaining after the first distillation.

Mark Bustard CEO of IBioIC - Food and Drink News Scotland
Mark Bustard CEO of IBioIC

Mark Bustard,  CEO,  IBioIC, said:  “This is an exciting new project with serious potential to create high value biobased products from a low value co-product.

“We are driving support for the growth of the bioeconomy, and this is a tremendous example of how we can add significant benefit with a circular approach to co-products.

“The whisky co-product valorisation project will demonstrate how innovation through collaboration can lead to a high value, commercial and environmental result.

‘Through integrating bioprocessing with business operational processes, we can create sustainable products and reduce overall waste as we work towards achieving Scotland’s green ambition to be net zero by 2045.”

The project requires each IBioIC member company to carry out extensive research into alternative uses for the co-products from the whisky manufacturing process.

MiAlgae, Horizon Proteins and BioPower Technologies will each have access to IBioIC’s FlexBio laboratory facilities at  Heriot Watt University to integrate, test, refine and evaluate commercial processes of extracting proteins and carbohydrates to maximise the value from using the same feedstock for each.

FlexBio scientists will also support the companies with their work and SWRI will provide anonymised whisky co-product samples from distilleries to support the processes and trials.

Iain Gulland Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland - Food and Drink News Scotland
Iain Gulland Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland

Ian Gulland, chief executive, Zero Waste Scotland said“Finding increased value from the materials and by-products we already have is a key principle of the circular economy.

“The organisations involved in the Whisky Project are innovative and forward thinking, and show how we can do so much more by thinking differently.

“It is fantastic that we can use such an iconic Scottish product to lead the way in developing a way of working that could act as an inspiration for industries all over the globe.

“The greatest impact we can have in reducing our carbon footprint is reducing the volume of material we consume, and biobased products could play a significant role in achieving this.”

James Brosnan Director at SWRI - Food and Drink News Scotland
James Brosnan Director at SWRI

Commenting on the project, James Brosnan, Director, at SWRI said: “This project will help the Scotch Whisky Industry to achieve its sustainability goals by providing practical, economically viable end-uses for co-products.

We particularly like how the project brings together Horizon Proteins, MiAlgae and Biopower, who individually have already demonstrated the potential of their respective technologies to the whisky sector, to work together to find mutually beneficial, integrated solutions.”

The whisky industry has made significant progress over the past decade in reducing co-products, creating sustainable supply chains and processes.

“All of the biotechnology experts taking part in the year-long research project have been successful in using biotechnology and co-products from the whisky industry in their own right.”

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