Celtic Renewables is an Edinburgh-based biotechnical company that is targeting the process of turning waste from whisky distilleries into biobutanol. Sounds cool, right? Biobutanol can be used as a substitute for petrol and diesel, no new engine is required. If everything succeeds than we are looking at potentially cutting out conventional fuel and eliminating a lot of CO2 in the near future.
When whisky goes through its brewing and aging process, only 10% of the output is whisky while the other 90% is waste. This waste consists of copper contaminated beer and barley. Celtic Renewables takes this excess and applies heat and acid and a fermentation process to create a broth. When the fermentation process is occurring, bacteria converts the broth into butanol, acetone and ethanol.
This is a phenomenal and innovative way to support our environment. So start buying more whisky if you don’t already – you’ll be helping to support this company in their efforts to lower emissions using whisky waste.
Every few years, someone comes up with a new idea of how to reduce dependence on traditional gasoline for cars. In Scotland, it makes sense that whisky would be the source of inspiration. Celtic Renewables in Edinburgh has developed a method that turns the byproducts of Scotch whisky production into biofuel. The best part? You don’t have to give up or change anything about your current vehicle–the fuel can go straight into your existing tank.
Only 7% of the product that leaves Scotch distilleries is whisky, the rest is made up of spent barley (draff) and a liquid residue called pot ale. These sugar-rich byproducts are mixed and then fed to a special kind of bacteria called clostridium that turn the draff and pot ale into fuel. Professor Martin Tangney, founder of Celtic Renewables, says that this biobutanol is different than other biofuels since it can be put directly into an unmodified tank. While the process has been a success in the laboratory, it will soon be tested on an industrial scale in Belgium. Since all countries in Europe are under a mandate that 10% of all fuels sold in the region must be biofuels by 2020, Celtic Renewables’ whisky fuel is timely for the area.
The whisky biofuel is a great way to turn byproducts into something sustainable. Plus, it would be pretty cool to say your car ran on whisky without actually wasting the stuff you want to drink!