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Whisky waste to feed farmed Salmon

Scotland’s whisky and fishing industries are embarking on an innovative new partnership that will see distillery waste converted into salmon feed.

Whisky salmon feed
Researchers are confident Scotch whisky byproduct could provide an essential source of protein for farmed salmon

In August 2014, chemical engineers from Heriot-Watt University, Scotland, will launch a pilot trial, called the Horizons Proteins project, which will transform potentially harmful Scotch distillery byproduct into protein-rich fish food.

The researchers will assess the environmental, economic, nutritional and chemical processes involved in the conversion. It is hoped that the project will boost the sustainability of both industries, cutting down on the transportation costs of shipping fish feed and making responsible use of potentially harmful distillery waste.

David Brown, chief executive of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), said: “Distillery effluent can be damaging, but also contains potentially valuable nutrients and micronutrients.

“The co-products can also be used to produce a microbial biomass which has the potential to be a cheap and sustainable source of protein-rich feed.”

According to academics at IChemE, more than 500 million litres of whisky is produced in the UK each year, but for every litre, up to 15 litres of potentially harmful waste can be generated.

In particular, researchers at Heriot-Watt University will consider the potential of “pot ale” – one of the primary byproducts of whisky distillation that is left in the copper vessel.

This waste contains minerals, carbohydrates and protein from yeast and barley – elements considered to make ideal protein-rich feed for Salmon. Currently, farmed salmon receive necessary protein boost from imported fish food and soy products.

The Horizons Protein project received £500,000 of funding from the Scottish Funding Council.

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