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Booze it up: Biofuel to be made from whiskey


Martin Tangney

Martin Tangney

Martin Tangney

A scientist has produced the first commercially viable fuel to be developed from whisky by-products.

Professor Martin Tangney, director of Napier University’s biofuel research centre, has produced an advanced biofuel called biobutanol, which could provide an alternative to oil for car and aviation fuel as well as other technologies.

Whisky accounts for just 10pc of the material produced in distilleries, with the remaining raw materials disposed of at a cost to the industry.

Prof Tangney (inset above) has set up a business called Celtic Renewables which will take those by-products and turn them into fuel.

He unveiled the first-ever samples of biobutanol at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh.

“The underlying technology that we use in this process is actually 100 years old,” he said.

“It’s fermentation known as the ABE fermentation, which was developed in the UK mainly to produce acetone for explosives in the First World War, and by the end of the Second World War it was the second biggest biological process that the world had seen.

“It died out in the 1960s because it couldn’t compete with the petrochemical industry.

“But in 2006 an American inventor by the name of David Ramey drove a car 10,000 miles around America using only butanol in a totally unmodified engine,” he said.