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Start-up plans to turn Scotland’s whisky distilling waste into sustainable fuel


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: July 12th, 2017

An award-winning startup from Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland is using waste from whisky production to create a new, sustainable biofuel.

Celtic Renewables is attempting to make their fuel, known as biobutanol, a direct replacement for gas and diesel fuels. The company has developed a process that harnesses the draft left over from making whisky, which contains sugar-rich barley kernels, and pot ale, a copper-colored yeasty liquid that is considered a waste product of distilling.

In Scotland each year, the whisky industry produces nearly 750,000 tons of draft and over 2 billion liters of pot ale. In addition to the environmental waste involved, distillers have to bear the cost of disposing of these byproducts.

Celtic Renewables pitched its idea to Tullibardine Distillery in Perthshire. Manager John Torrence was happy to cut down on the £300,000 (over $386K US) it costs each year to get rid of the waste, as well as support a potential breakthrough in green technology.

“We’re a forward thinking distillery,” says Torrence. “We’re happy to support what promises to be a groundbreaking first for renewable energy, for transport and for the Scottish whiskey industry alike.”

Using both the pot ale and the draft, Celtic Renewables mixes, treats and ferments the by-products to create a broth, which is then separated into its solid and liquid components. The liquid is distilled to extract solvents including butanol and ethanol, while the solids are dried to produce a high-grade animal feed.

The Scottish government and other investors have granted Celtic Renewables a combined £9 million in funding. The start-up intends to use that capital to open a factory in 2018 that is capable of producing 500,000 liters of biobutanol each year.

Source: Digital Journal

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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