Edinburgh Distillery Embraces Green Technology

HydroThane UK and The North British Distillery Co Ltd (NBD) have completed the construction of the first phase of a three phase project which introduces high rate anaerobic digestion (AD) technology at the company's distillery site in central Edinburgh.

The Project

The project consists of a total investment of £6 million in “green” technology by NBD which significantly reduces the carbon footprint of the distillery in line with its corporate sustainability strategy.

The project consists of three phases:


The first phase of the project combines an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant with a process steam biogas fired boiler.

The contract for phase one was placed with HydroThane UK in January 2010 and plant takeover took place on 14th October 2010.

The plant consists of an anaerobic digester which utilises the ECSB (External Circulation Sludge Bed) high rate technology developed by HydroThane STP. The plant consists of a 500m3 ECSB reactor, neutralisation tank, flash aeration unit, biogas scrubber, biogas dryer, biogas steam boiler and a biogas flare unit.

The feed stock for the plant is a mix of post-distillation liquor and evaporator condensate both of which are by-products from the spirit manufacturing process.

HydroThane UK

Press Release

Phase one is designed to treat 9,000Kg COD/day and will produce 1MW of energy per hour (8 million kilowatt hours of energy per year). Commissioning of the new plant and process is expected to be completed by mid December 2010.

The energy generated from the process will be used within the distillery displacing existing natural gas supplies to the steam boiler system.


This consists of an expansion of the anaerobic digestion plant with the addition of two further ECSB reactors.

A contract has been placed with HydroThane UK and HydroThane STP for Phase two of the project with a start date of 1st November 2010.

Phase two will increase the capacity of the AD plant by adding a further two 500m3 ECSB reactors.

On completion of Phase two the plant will produce 3MW of energy per hour (24 million kilowatt hours of energy per year).

Dependent on the outcome of the RHI tariff announcement a decision will be taken whether to continue to use the biogas onsite for steam raising, or for cleaning and injection into the gas network grid or for electrical generation through the use of a CHP unit.


The third phase of the project will witness the construction of a water treatment plant (WTP).

The plant will use aerobic membrane bio reactor technology to improve the quality of the final effluent.

Membrane technology will also be used to recover 40% of the water which will be recycled for use within the distillery.

HydroThane UK

Press Release

The completed project will deliver multiple benefits for NBD:

1. It produces renewable energy (biogas – steam) which reduces natural gas imports and reduces energy costs.

2. It will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by between 9,000 and 10,000 tonnes of per year, significantly reducing NBD’s carbon footprint.

3. It reduces the load on the existing by-products evaporation process thereby increasing the overall production capability of the distillery.

4. The WTP will reduce the company’s ongoing water and effluent charges.

David Rae, managing director of NBD said:

“Scotland’s whisky industry is at the forefront of harnessing renewable technology to reduce its impact on the environment. Our sustainability business strategy will enable NBD to make savings in terms of energy costs while at the same time reducing the environmental impact of our production process. We hope to save between nine thousand and ten thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually from this investment programme, contributing significantly to the Scotch whisky industry’s global target of sourcing 80 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2050.”

Michael Lyle, managing director of HydroThane UK said:

“The choice of the HydroThane STP ECSB technology will give NBD considerable improvements in their energy costs and reduction in environmental emissions. The ECSB technology, a third generation anaerobic digestion process, ensures that all anaerobic odours are contained within the process, which was an essential factor in the choice of the ECSB technology by NBD due to its central Edinburgh location and environmental licensing conditions. We look forward to developing and constructing the second phase of this project jointly with the NBD project team.”

The companies

The North British Distillery Company Limited

The North British Distillery Co Ltd a joint venture between Diageo and Edrington Group has celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2010. The distillery located at Wheatfield Road, in central Edinburgh, distils Scotch grain whisky which is then matured and used in many brands of blended Scotch whisky such as Famous Grouse, J&B Rare, Johnnie Walker Black Label and Cutty Sark.


Alistair Murphy

0131 337 3363

[email protected]

HydroThane UK

HydroThane UK based in Morpeth, Northumberland is the UK and Ireland licensee of the HydroThane STP anaerobic digestion (AD) technologies.

HydroThane UK designs and constructs AD plants, biogas utilisation plants and peripheral water treatment plants using the process technologies of HydroThane STP, a Netherlands based AD process company.

HydroThane UK is a member of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) www.adbiogas.co.uk


Michael Lyle

07968 585315

[email protected]


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