University Of Louisville Startup’s Bourbon Sustainability Tech Wins An Award

, | November 23, 2021

A University of Louisville research-backed startup recently won a nationwide pitch competition aimed at bourbon sustainability.

The startup, BioProducts LLC, won the Distillers Grains Reverse Pitch competition backed by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and others.

The competition was geared toward finding innovative solutions for using distilling byproducts. Every gallon of bourbon produced creates 10 gallons of byproduct. BioProducts utilizes a UofL patented technology that transforms the byproduct into a low-calorie sugar substitute and as specialized activated carbon suitable for a number of high-performance applications, particularly lithium-ion batteries.


BioProducts has won a bourbon sustainability pitch competition (image via Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet/University of Louisville)

BioProducts teamed up with Louisville-based C&I Engineering Inc. to present how the integrated technology could be applied at different types and sizes of distilleries. 

“Using this technology — invented in Kentucky and for one of Kentucky’s signature industries — we can take this otherwise waste material and turn it into a game-changer,” UofL’s Jagannadh Satyavolu said in a prepared statement. “This could help make distilling more sustainable, reduce pollution and much more.”

The technology was invented by Satyavolu’s UofL Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research biomass conversion and biofuels group in collaboration with Michael Nantz and his team in the UofL chemistry department.

“We feel we are the right team at the right time to solve this challenge,” said Cliff Speedy, C&I Engineering’s executive director of projects.

BioProducts team received an engraved bourbon barrel lid for winning the pitch competition. They will present to 500 distillery professionals at the James B. Beam Institute Industry Conference in March 2022.

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Hannah Kanik

Hannah Kanik is a freelance writer from California. Two years ago, she found herself drinking Scottish whisky atop Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh and found her love for whisky and its storytelling side-effects.