The new company, called Celtic Renewables, has been set up to capitalise on Scotland’s £4 billion malt whisky industry to develop bio-butanol – a next generation biofuel – along with other renewable chemicals and animal feed.
“Scotland’s whisky has a world-wide reputation for excellence and generates huge benefits for our economy. It’s fitting, then, that the by-products of this industry are now being used in an area where we have so much promise – sustainable biofuels,” said Fergus Ewing. “Turning our whisky industry’s by-products into raw materials for sustainable biofuels which can be used to power ordinary family cars is an example of the sort of innovative thinking Scotland excels in,” he added.
Unlike ethanol, biobutanol can be used in unmodified car engines at any blend with petrol and may also be mixed with diesel and biodiesel. Celtic Renewables are now working with Scottish Enterprise to produce the fuel from sustainable resources on an industrial scale. Its fermentation process uses the two main by-products of whisky production – ‘pot ale’, the liquid from the copper stills, and ‘draff’, the spent grains. Each year the Scottish whisky industry produces 1600 million litres of pot ale and 500,000 tonnes of draff.
“The Scottish malt whisky industry is a ripe resource for developing bio-butanol,” said Professor Martin Tangney, Founder of Celtic Renewables and Director of the Biofuel Research Centre. “The pot ale and draff could be converted into biofuel as a direct substitute for fossil-derived fuel, which would reduce oil consumption and C02 emissions while also providing energy security – particularly in the rural and remote homelands of the whisky industry,” he added. Researchers behind the new process say it also has ‘huge global potential’ to be adapted to other biological by-products.
Source: NNFCC, 2012-02-06.