Celtic Renewables Revives WWI Explosives Process to Recycle Residues : First Car Fueled by Biofuel from Whiskey Waste Roles into Action in Scotland

Celtic renewables waste whiskey biofuel scotland
© Celtic Renewables

Scottish start up, Celtic Renewables, has set the wheels of the first car to be fueled by a biofuel made from the waste residues of the whisky making process in motion.

The fuel, biobutanol, is a new advanced drop in biofuel produced from draff - the sugar-rich kernels of barley which are soaked in water to facilitate the fermentation process necessary for whisky production - and pot ale, the copper-containing yeasty liquid that is left over following distillation.

Celtic Renewables’ process uses bacterial fermentation to produce biobutanol, a process originally devised in the UK at the start of the last century to produce acetone for explosives in the First World War.

It was phased-out in the 1960s due to competition from the petrochemical industry, but now Celtic Renewables said that it is bringing it back to life by applying it to the residues of the Scotch Whisky Industry.

Working with Tullibardine Distillery in Perthshire, the company – a spinout from Edinburgh Napier University - has developed a process to produce sustainable transport fuel from waste.

According to the company, each year in Scotland the Malt Whisky industry produces almost 750,000 tonnes of draff and 2 billion litres of pot ale, and it plans to put these waste products to good use by converting them into millions of litres of advanced biofuel.

Celtic Renewables said that it is now ready to showcase how this can be used to fuel cars with no engine modification required. Professor Martin Tangney, the company's founder and President claimed that it is the first time that a car has ever been driven with a biofuel produced from whisky production residues.

“It is fitting to do this historic drive in Scotland, which is famous not just for its world-renowned whisky but also for being a powerhouse for renewable energy,” he said. Tullibardine distillery manager John Torrance added: "Right from the outset when Celtic Renewables approached us we could see the game-changing potential of a new fuel created from our by-products.

The Edinburgh-based company recently received £9 million funding support from the Scottish Government as co-investment to build a commercial demonstrator plant in Grangemouth with commissioning due in 2018.

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