Making Biofuel from Whisky By-products

Making Biofuel from Whisky By-products

Susan Cosier
Published: 07/03/2012

Martin Tangney, founder and chief scientific officer of Celtic Renewables. Photo coutresy of Celtic Renewables

Scotch is not just good for sipping; it’s also good for making biofuel. Scottish company Celtic Renewables Ltd. is about to start turning the by-products of whisky—pot ale and draff—into biobutanol, a substitute for gasoline and heating oil.

As gas prices soared and environmental awareness grew, Martin Tangney, director of Edinburgh Napier University’s Biofuel Research Centre and founder of Celtic Renewables, saw an opportunity to create fuel from the leftovers, which might otherwise be mixed into animal feed or fertilizers or simply flushed into the sea.

The United Kingdom is legally obligated to get 15 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020, and the company aims to supply a big chunk of that in the next five years. Organic residue from tequila, brandy, and vodka distillation could also be used, says Mark Simmers, the company’s CEO.

This story originally ran in the July-August 2012 issue as "Drinking and Driving."

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