Scientists develop bio-fuel from whisky waste

Waste from whisky distilling has been transformed into a bio-fuel by Scottish scientists.

Professor Martin Tangney

Professor Martin Tangney

Edinburgh Napier University Biofuel Research Centre has filed a patent for the new biofuel, which it claims can be used in ordinary cars without any special adaptions.

The Edinburgh Napier team focused on the £4 billion whisky industry as a ripe resource for developing biobutanol.

As part of their research, the centre was provided with samples of whisky distilling by-products from Diageo's Glenkinchie Distillery.

The £260,000 research project was funded by Scottish Enterprise's 'Proof of Concept' programme.

It uses the two main by-products of the whisky production process - 'pot ale', the liquid from the copper stills, and 'draff', the spent grains, as the basis for producing the butanol that can then be used as fuel.

With 1,600 million litres of pot ale and 187,000 tonnes of draff produced by the malt whisky industry annually, there is real potential for bio-fuel to be available at local garage forecourts alongside traditional fuels.

Professor Martin Tangney, director of the Biofuel Research Centre at the university led the research.

He said: "The European Union has declared biofuels should account for 10% of total fuel sales by 2020. We're committed to finding new, innovative renewable energy sources.

"While some energy companies are growing crops specifically to generate biofuel, we are investigating excess materials such as whisky by-products to develop them.

"This is a more environmentally sustainable option and potentially offers new revenue on the back of one Scotland's biggest industries.

"We've worked with some of the country's leading whisky producers to develop the process."

Luke Walsh




Waste & resource management
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