Scottish scientists brew up whisky biofuel

August 18, 2010

Professor Martin Tangey, Director of Edinburgh Napier University Biofuel Research Centre, holds a glass of whisky during a media viewing in Edinburgh, Scotland August 17, 2010. The University, which has filed a patent for a new super butanol biofuel made from whiskey by-products, 'pot ale' - a liquid taken from the copper stills, and 'draff' which is the spent grain, claims the bio-fuel gives 30 percent more output power than ethanol. REUTERS/David Moir

Scientists in Scotland have unveiled a new biofuel made from whisky byproducts that they say can power ordinary cars more efficiently than ethanol.

A research team from Edinburgh’s Napier University spent two years creating the biofuel butanol that can be used in gas tanks either as a stand-alone fuel or blended with petrol or diesel, they announced Tuesday. It is derived from distillation byproducts pot ale (liquid from copper stills) and draff (the spent grains).

Is this the answer for critics of corn-based, energy-intensive ethanol?

“While some energy companies are growing crops specifically to generate biofuel, we are investigating excess materials such as whisky by-products to develop them,” Professor Martin Tangey, director of Napier’s Biofuel Research Center told the Financial Times.

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

Global exports of Scotch whisky rose to a record $4.85 billion last year, and accounts for about a quarter of all food and drink exports from the UK.

The biofuel project cost about $400,000 and was funded by the Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept Programme. It is no joke, although the blogosphere runneth over with the punny descriptors such as: “Whisky to go?” and “One for the road?”

The group has filed for a patent and plans to open a commercial venture to market the product.

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Photo shows Professor Martin Tangey, Director of Edinburgh Napier University Biofuel Research Centre, holding a glass of whisky during a media viewing in Edinburgh, Scotland August 17, 2010.  REUTERS/David Moir

6 comments

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God Bless the Scots!!!

Posted by tikvallah | Report as abusive

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This is some exciting news!

Posted by 4WallsRentals | Report as abusive

I will drink to that

Posted by juxtapose | Report as abusive

At long last some real research to use existing byproducts . This is the sort of research and devleopment we need . The current ideas of biofuel are more there for money making than anything else , and lead to major ecological and diversity problems . The cost of this research was negligable , why does not the EU look at this type of development , or does it not make enough money ?
I make these comments as I currently live in Malaysia where there is massive virgin forest and habitat destruction going on , in the name of biofuels and so called ecology .

Posted by Singcaver | Report as abusive

Surely, that should read Scottish scientists create whiskey strong enough to power a car!

Posted by HKFrankie | Report as abusive

A very brief look into corn based ethanol reveals more problems than solutions. Using something that has been a waste product up until this point is the direction that the world needs to explore.

Kudos to the Scotts & their Scotch!

Posted by lorboy | Report as abusive