Scottish Firm Use Whisky Residues To Produce Biofuel
Edinburgh-based Celtic Renewables became the world’s first to produce biofuel made out of whisky residue to power automobiles. The British Government has now been given them a further grant of $16.7 million to build a biofuel production facility in central Scotland.
Celtic Renewables Ltd is an innovative start-up company formed to commercialise next generation biofuel made from the by-products of biological industries. The company, with the backing of the government, is geared up to build a production facility in central Scotland after manufacturing the first samples of bio-butanol from the by-products of whisky fermentation. The facility for production will be Grangemouth, 25 miles from Edinburgh which has a production capacity of one million litres of biofuel per annum.
Martin Tangney, the founder of the company and Professor at the Edinburgh Napier University professor, said that biobutanol was obtained in a process where residue was produced by the ABE fermentation process of whisky. The team has already produced biobutanol on an industrial scale in Belgium with assistance from the BioBase Europe Pilot Plant (BBEPP). He also mentioned that Biobutanol is an advanced biofuel that is an exact replacement for petrol or diesel.
Procedure: Biobutanol is created using the ABE (Acetone-Butanol-Ethanol) process. This is the process of blending a yeast liquid (pot ale) with draff-barley kernels that are kept soaked in water. The Scottish distilleries produce approximately 750,000 tonnes of draff and two billion litres of pot ale annually.
Martin Tangney added: “Moreover the fuel is not restricted to automobiles. It’s currently being trialled in the shipping industry and is a very good base unit for jet fuel. Butanol produces almost the same amount of energy as petrol and in comparison to ethanol, which has only got about 70% of it”. The company intends to introduce biobutanol to the market “as a blend”. The company does not intend to supply via outlets or filling stations.
Tangney is quoted to have said: “I see the whole energy thing as a matrix where there will be lots of different renewable energy forms coming in to replace oil, which won’t happen like-for-like overnight.“
Currently, Tullibardine distillery in Perthshire supply byproducts to Celtic Renewables. Celtic however, plans to open their biofuel production centre by December 2018. The firm has received multiple grants from the Government of UK – Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) under its Energy Entrepreneurs Fund and Scotland’s Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBIC).