Carbon Capture Scotland to capture biogenic CO2 from Whyte & Mackay whisky distillery

Article by Kerry Hebden

CARBON CAPTURE SCOTLAND has teamed up with Scottish whisky makers Whyte & Mackay to capture the biogenic CO2 produced during fermentation at the firm’s distilleries. 

Formerly known as Dry Ice Scotland, Carbon Capture Scotland says it uses proprietary and off-the-shelf technology to capture biogenic or net zero CO2 at emitter sites such as distilleries, before either using the gas in local industry – for carbonating beer for example – or permanently sequestering it in geological stores. 

Richard Nimmons, who founded Dry Ice Scotland in 2012, said: “Carbon Capture Scotland is one of the largest utilisers of CO2 in the country and this partnership with Whyte & Mackay allows us to capture sustainable CO2 and either reuse or begin carbon removal efforts.” 

Scotland is home to more than 140 malt and grain distilleries – five of which are owned by Whyte & Mackay – making it the greatest concentration of whisky producers in the world. But with that comes a lot of CO2, mostly due to the fermentation process which converts sugars, including glucose, fructose, and maltose, into alcohol and CO2.  

On average about 2.3 kg of CO2 is produced for every litre of whisky, meaning that approximately 500,000 t of CO2e is emitted per year by the malt whisky sector alone. 

While whisky washbacks, used in distilleries as fermentation vessels, are generally fitted with CO2 extractors, this CO2 is rarely collected. Removing and storing the biogenic CO2 from Whyte & Mackay distilleries is one way to help decarbonise industry in the transition to net zero says Carbon Capture Scotland. 

Ed Nimmons, Richard’s brother and the firm’s co-founder said: “We have a near-term opportunity to capture sustainable CO2, originating from Scottish grain, and to use this to both decarbonise industry and combat climate change by removing permanently. 

“There are fantastic co-benefits to the project, including local employment, education and development of low-carbon skills.” 

Project Nexus

The partnership with Whyte & Mackay forms part of Carbon Capture Scotland’s Project Nexus, a UK-wide carbon capture, utilisation and storage initiative. Aiming to remove 1m t/y of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2030, the initiative hopes to generate more than 500 jobs in rural Scotland. 

Along with Scottish whisky, Project Nexus is focusing on capturing CO2 from the agriculture sector. 

Last year the firm received a £120m (US$153m) investment by Steyn Group for a project to fund its first modular carbon capture units, and to develop sites that permanently store CO2 in geological formations, such as redundant North Sea oil reservoirs – an option the firm is looking at. 

Article by Kerry Hebden

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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