Thursday, August 19, 2010

Newsy: Scots Develop Biofuel from Whiskey

Scottish researchers have tapped into the UK’s $6.2 billion whiskey industry to produce a new biofuel that will power a car.
Scottish researchers have found a way to develop butanol for a biofuel using resources the country has in abundance - waste from whiskey production. The fuel will give cars 30% more output power then ethanol biofuel and unlike its ethanol counterpart, will be usable in ordinary cars.
We’re analyzing coverage from euronews, Cnet, Time, The BBC and Sky News.
Euronews explains the process: “Researchers have found a formula using the waste products from distilling Scotland’s famous tipple, namely the ‘pot ale’ or liquid from the copper stills, and draff, which is the spent grains. Put together they produce an alcohol called butanol which can drive a vehicle, much like ethanol.”
Cnet reports the new process is based on a method used to create explosives in World War I and on research started 100 years ago: “Some start-ups and researchers have highlighted the amusing correlation between drinkable alcohol and experimental biofuels ... explaining on a more serious note that early experiments in alcohol-based biofuels had been curtailed by the onset of Prohibition legislation.”
A writer for Time points out this could do well economically for Scotland: “It could be a financial windfall for the Scottish, who count whisky as a major industry. Plus, since the fuel needs only the byproducts from the whisky-production process, that would mean more (and cheaper) booze. Sounds like a win all around.”
The director of World Wildlife Fund Scotland tells the BBC he applauds the research, saying it’s a big boost for the environment.
Dr. Richard Dixon: "Last year the whisky industry published plans to help lower its impacts and it is clear that this scheme could assist them in doing just that. Since the whisky industry relies on Scotland's clean environment for its main ingredients it would be great if the industry could help Scotland reduce its emissions from road transport."
The head researcher Professor Martin Tangney tells Sky News he hopes commercial availability isn’t too far off.
Professor Martin Tangney: “With Scottish Enterprise support, we’ve, for the last two years, developed this to a pre-industrial stage now. And the next phase of development will be for the big industries to come and bring this to the market which I hope will happen in years and not decades.”
So what do you think? Is whiskey fuel a viable resource, and would you trust it in your car?
Writer: Kelly Chase

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