Global environmental challenges
Scottish scientists brew up whisky biofuel
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.
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