Sunday 11 December 2016

Irish scientist's invention puts whisky in the car

Published 18/08/2010 | 05:00

AN Irish scientist has given new meaning to 'getting tanked up' and 'drink driving' after perfecting a green way to fuel cars with Scotch.

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While it's a far cry from rocket fuel at this stage, the biofuel made from the by-products of Scotch whisky distillation is just as effective as normal petrol and just as easy on the engine, which requires no modifications.

Professor Martin Tangney (45) from Macroom, Co Cork, has been working with some of Scotland's largest whisky producers at the Biofuel Research Centre at Edinburgh Napier University to turn the by-products of distillation into fuel.

Whether it's single malt, single grain, blended, smoke or peat-flavoured Scotch, the end result is the same: a clean, carbon-neutral fuel that can be blended with regular petrol to run an engine.

While whisky purists may gasp at the thought of a dram of Glenkinchie, Tullibardine or Benromach going down someone's petrol tank, Prof Tangney can assure them that not one drop of the liquid gold will ever be wasted making his biobutanol.

Research

Whisky was chosen as the main ingredient in Prof Tangney's two-year-long research project because Scotch malt distillation is one of Scotland's largest industries, worth around €5bn.

It uses the two main by-products of the whisky production process -- 'pot ale', the liquid from the copper stills, and 'draff', the spent grains -- as the basis for the butanol that can then be used as fuel.

"While some energy companies are growing crops specifically to generate biofuel, we are investigating excess materials such as whisky by-products," he said.

"This is a more environmentally sustainable option and potentially offers new revenue on the back of one Scotland and Ireland's biggest industries. We've worked with some of the leading whisky producers to develop the process."

He has patented the process and is currently working with drinks giant Diageo -- which owns the Guinness brand -- to look at future partnerships with the oil industry to develop the fuel as an alternative to petrol.

Talks are already under way with major oil companies, he added.

Irish Independent

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