Whiskey Waste to Drop-in Biofuel Project in Scotland

Blackford, Perthshire based Tullibardine is to become the first whisky distillery in the world to convert its waste by-products into advanced biofuel, capable of powering both petrol and diesel vehicles.

Doug Ross (MD - Tullibardine), Dr Doug Ward CBE, Prof Martin Tangney, Iain Gulland (Director of Zero Waste Scotland) and Mark Simmers at the Tullibardine Distillery
25 September 2012

Blackford, Perthshire based Tullibardine is to become the first whisky distillery in the world to convert its waste by-products into advanced biofuel, capable of powering both petrol and diesel vehicles.

The distillery has signed a memorandum of understanding with Edinburgh-based Celtic Renewables, which said that it has developed the technology to produce biobutanol from the by-products of whisky production.

Celtic Renewables is, a spinoff company from the Biofuel Research Centre (BfRC) at Edinburgh Napier University, which said that it aims to build a processing plant in Scotland that will help grow a projected £60 million per year industry.

Tullibardine has the capacity to provide 6500 tonnes of draff and 2 million of litres of pot ale, the by-products of whisky which are currently spread on agricultural fields, turned into animal feed or safely discharged into the sea under license. All at a cost of around £250,000 every year.

The distillery is currently supplying raw materials to help refine the conversion process at the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) at Redcar, in Teesside.

According to Celtic Renewables the project has the support of ministers who believe it can contribute to the Scottish Government's target of reducing carbon emissions by 42% by 2020 as well as contributing to the EU mandated biofuel target of 10% by 2020.

Doug Ross (MD - Tullibardine), Dr Doug Ward CBE, Prof Martin Tangney, Iain Gulland (Director of Zero Waste Scotland) and Mark Simmers at the Tullibardine Distillery.

Commenting on the deal, Douglas Ross, managing director of Tullibardine, said: "It takes a cost to us and turns it into something that has social as well as commercial value."

Commercial pilot

The pilot demonstration project, said to be the first of its kind in Scotland, is being funded with the help of a £155,000 grant from Zero Waste Scotland.

Celtic Renewables added that while the original 'proof-of-concept' research, conducted at Edinburgh Napier, was at a small lab-scale of three litres of pot ale, this industrial scale second phase testing at the CPI will systematically scale up to 10,000 litres.

"By piloting the fermentation at commercial scale we will demonstrate the viability of the process as a new and important industry of potential scale for Scotland,"
explained Mark Simmers, CEO of Celtic Renewables

Because distilleries currently produce around three times more pot ale than draff, the company said that it is also considering other sustainable sources of sugar-rich raw materials, such as the by-products from breweries or paper waste, to help it convert the excess into biofuel.


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