In what is claimed to be the worlds first, a Scottish distillery has linked up with a spin-out company from a University in Edinburgh to create fuel from whisky ‘left overs’. The butanol produced after feeding these “leftovers” with bacteria can be used to fuel vehicles.
More than 90% of the stuff that comes out of a whisky distillery is not whisky. It is leftovers like draff and pot ales – both produced in the early stages of the process.
The distiller, Tullibardine has the capacity to provide 6,500 metric tons of draff (what’s left of the grain after fermentation) and 2 million liters of pot ale (residue from the still), by-products that are currently spread on agricultural fields, turned into animal feed or discharged into the sea, all at cost.
The technology isn’t new. The idea of converting a range of fuels found in plant materials to produce butanol goes back a century, and was scaled up to make acetone for explosives in World War I. The technology died out in the 1960s because of competition from petrochemicals. If we can get this right in Scotland, we can adapt it anywhere. India makes whisky, Japan makes whisky, Ireland makes whisky. A lot of the waste ends up in the sea. – Martin Tangney of Celtic Renewables
The spin-out company, Celtic Renewables, and Tullibardine will, together, apply the process to thousands of tonnes of the distillery’s leftovers. The distiller spends around Rs. 2 crores ($ 400,000) to dispose of its by-products each year.