The plant will produce over half a million litres each year of Biobutanol biofuel, made using whisky residue.

Scotland’s first biorefinery welcomes six fermentation vessels

Image credit: Andrew Milligan/PA

Scotland’s first biorefinery, which aims to help develop a low-carbon green bioeconomy, has taken a step forward with the arrival of six purpose-built fermentation vessels.

The 130,000-litre tanks, which were built in the Netherlands, were craned into position after arriving at Celtic Renewables’ site in Grangemouth near Falkirk on Tuesday (15 September). 

Celtic Renewables apply microbiology expertise and modern process technology to produce high-value low-carbon biochemicals and next-generation biofuel from biological waste and residues.

The new plant is expected to process around 50,000 tonnes of residues each year from the whisky industry, adding value and sustainability to one of the country’s most important sectors.

“The biotechnology sector is based on innovation and Scotland excels in this aspect, but the really difficult part is converting research into production,” said Professor Martin Tangney, Celtic Renewables founder and president. “This landmark event today signals our capability to deliver a thriving biotechnology industry in Scotland.

One of six purpose-built 130,000 litre fermentation vessels, built in the Netherlands is craned into position after arriving at Celtic Renewables' new biorefinery plant in Grangemouth near Falkirk.

Image credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images

“As a business, we have always believed in the transformational impact of our technology and this is needed now more than ever as we battle with the economic impact of Covid-19,” he added. “We are delighted to be part of the vanguard of biotechnology innovation in Scotland and look forward to playing our part in growing a new sustainable bioeconomy.”

The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), the organisation that connects industry, academia and government to bring biotechnology processes and products to the global market, has welcomed the news.

”IBioIC has an ambitious plan to stimulate the growth of the biotechnology sector in Scotland to a £900m industry by 2025, and Celtic Renewables is one of the key players in achieving this ambition,” said Professor Dame Anne Glover, DBE and chair of the IBioIC. “This major milestone in the construction of Scotland’s first biorefinery of this scale is not only great for the circular economy but also the wider green recovery.”

The arrival and installation of the vessels was delayed back in March because of restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, Falkirk Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn hailed the investment as “a significant coup” for the area.

One of six purpose-built 130,000 litre fermentation vessels, built in the Netherlands is craned into position after arriving at Celtic Renewables' new biorefinery plant

Image credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images

“We have established a recovery plan for the area’s economy and the arrival of this new equipment to the site is a tangible sign of our commitment to a green recovery,” Meiklejohn added.

“The Investment Zone looks to sustain and grow Grangemouth’s manufacturing sector in a way that is economically inclusive and contributes to net zero. The recent announcement of £90m Growth Deal Funding will underpin our Investment Zone ambitions, which include investing in infrastructure to support innovative businesses such as Celtic Renewables.”

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