Whiskey As Biofuel
September 25, 2012

Whiskey Could Be The Key To Lower Gas Prices

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

It may not come as a shock to most who have tasted it before, but some scientists are turning whiskey by-products into fuel.

The Tullibardine distillery in Perthshire, Scotland is joining in with Celtic Renewables to create biofuel out of their whiskey leftovers.

The scientists plan to use bacteria to feed on the "leftovers" from the whiskey making process to produce butanol, which can help fuel vehicles.

Over 90% of the stuff whiskey distilleries produce is not whiskey, but is actually leftovers like draft and pot ales. These are high in sugar and are currently being used for things like fertilizer and cattle feed.

Researchers from Napier University's Biofuel Research Centre (BfRC) have shown that bacteria can feed on these by-products and produce butanol.

Celtic Renewables and Tullibardine have signed a contract saying they plan to apply the process to thousands of tons of the distillery's whiskey by-product.

"Our partnership with Tullibardine is an important step in the development of a business which combines two iconic Scottish industries - whiskey and renewables," Professor Martin Tangney, founder of Celtic Renewables, said in a statement. "This project demonstrates that innovative use of existing technologies can utilize resources on our doorstep to benefit both the environment and the economy."

The company said it will eventually build a processing plant in Scotland, with the hope of building an industry around the idea.

"We are delighted to be partnering Celtic Renewables in this innovative venture, the obvious benefits of which are environmental," Douglas Ross, managing director of Tullibardine, said in a statement. "It takes a cost to us and turns it into something that has social as well as commercial value."

The director of BfRC helped to develop the process from the laboratory using three liters of pot ale, before scaling it up to 10,000 liters at the Redcar plant.

Mark Simmers, CEO of Celtic Renewables, said that not only is whiskey waste better suited to use as vehicle fuel than bioethanol, but also could help keep the world from facing potential food shortages by using corn.

The advanced biofuel would be able to be used in any unmodified vehicle on the road, compared to bioethanol, which requires modifications.

Butanol also mixes better with conventional petroleum products, so a higher ratio of biofuel to petroleum could be used for gasoline.