Whisky residue biofuel carThe world’s first car to be powered by fuel produced from whisky waste has completed its first public demonstration drive in Scotland. The sustainable fuel is called biobutanol and the Scottish whisky industry could potentially produce millions of litres of it every year. 

A Ford Focus hired from car dealer group Arnold Clark was used for the inaugural run, which took place at Edinburgh Napier university. Arnold Clark technicians certified the biofuel for use before the drive: no engine modifications were required. 

Developed by startup firm Celtic Renewables in association with Perthshire’s Tullibardine Distillery, the biobutanol fuel is produced from draff and pot ale. Draff is sugar-rich kernels of barley, soaked in water, which aids whisky fermentation, while pot ale is copper-rich yeasty liquid left over following distillation. 

Scotland’s malt whisky industry produces almost 750,000 tonnes of draff and a staggering 2 billion litres of pot ale per year, whisky residue that would otherwise go to waste. This is why Celtic Renewables is so confident it could potentially produce biobutanol in such quantities. 

Whisky residue biofuel car

Founder and president Professor Martin Tangney said it could be “a multi-billion-pound global business with the opportunity to turn transport green.” Tullibardine distillery manager John Torrance said it was immediately clear there was “game-changing potential of a new fuel created from our by-products.

“We’re a forward-thinking distillery and we’re happy to support what promises to be a groundbreaking first for renewable energy, for transport and for the Scottish whisky industry alike.”

The next step in the project is to secure sufficient funding to open a demonstrator plant in Grangemouth, with the potential to produce biobutanol biofuel on a much larger scale. 


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