Researchers at Edinburgh Napier University have developed a chemical process using the two main by-products of whisky production to make butanol, which can be used to fuel vehicles. The two by-products used are pot ale, which is a liquid, and the spent whisky grains, called draff.
Scotland produces large quantities of whisky, enough that there are 1,600 million liters of pot ale and 187,000 tons of draff left over. These waste products can now be used to create biobutanol, which is said to produce 30 percent more power than ethanol. The university has filed a patent for the new biofuel and envisions a commercial operation to produce and sell it. Biobutanol can be used in ordinary cars, and requires no adaptions. The plan is to have the new biofuel available at petrol pumps already in use. Presumably it would be blended with conventional petroleum fuel to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. It could also be offered in a pure form.
The World Wildlife Fund’s Scotland Director, Dr. Richard Dixon commented, ” The production of some biofuels can cause massive environmental damage to forests and wildlife. So, whisky powered-cars could help Scotland avoid having to use those forest-trashing biofuels.”
Producing more biofuels is part of the effort by European Union countries to reduce their impact on climate change. The EU has set a goal of having ten percent of all fuel sales be biofuels. Biofuels typically are made from plant sources like corn, sugar cane, or soy beans and rapeseed.
The biobutanol chemistry was based on fermentation research conducted by Chaim Weizmann many decades ago. He was also the first president of Israel.
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