Six 130,000-litre fermentation vessels arrive at Scotland’s first biorefinery

Scotland’s first biorefinery, which hopes 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, built in the Netherlands, were craned into position after arriving at Celtic Renewables’ site in Grangemouth near Falkirk on Tuesday.

Using around 50,000 tonnes of waste and residues each year, including from the whisky industry, the plant will produce more than 500,000 litres of Biobutanol biofuel annually.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Jim Small, senior project manager, stands on the fermenter platform at Celtic Renewables’ new biorefinery plant in Grangemouth (Andrew Milligan/PA)</figcaption>
Jim Small, senior project manager, stands on the fermenter platform at Celtic Renewables’ new biorefinery plant in Grangemouth (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Modern processing technology will help produce high-value low-carbon biochemicals, as well as the next generation biofuel.

Professor Martin Tangney, Celtic Renewables founder and president, said: “The biotechnology sector is based on innovation and Scotland excels in this aspect, but the really difficult part is converting research into production.

“This landmark event today signals our capability to deliver a thriving biotechnology industry in Scotland.

“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.

“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 arrival and installation of the vessels was delayed in March because of restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>The plant will produce over half a million litres each year of Biobutanol biofuel, made using whisky residue (Andrew Milligan/PA)</figcaption>
The plant will produce over half a million litres each year of Biobutanol biofuel, made using whisky residue (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Falkirk Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn hailed the investment as “a significant coup” for the area.

He said: “Celtic Renewables are important partners in developing the Falkirk and Grangemouth Investment Zone and we are delighted to have worked with them in to establish their plant at Grangemouth.

“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.

“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 £90 million Growth Deal Funding will underpin our Investment Zone ambitions which include investing in infrastructure to support innovative businesses such as Celtic Renewables.”