Scientists in Scotland have announced that they have figured out a way to produce bio-fuel from whisky. At first, when we heard this, we were horrified: Why would anyone want to waste good whisky to make bio-fuel? But the process turns out to be rather brilliant.
A team of researchers at Edinburgh Napier University’s Bio-fuel Research Center have spent the last two years experimenting with two byproducts of the whisky-making process.
They took a leftover liquid from copper pot stills – called “pot ale”, and combined it with spent grains – called “draff”, and turned them into a butanol “superfuel”. The butanol can be blended with regular gasoline or diesel, similar to the way small amounts of ethanol are blended, meaning engines wouldn’t need any alterations.
The scientists used byproducts from the Glenkinchie Distillery in Pencaitland, Scotland, but they’re staying mum on exactly how they made the bio-fuel. The potential market for transforming this organic waste into fuel is sizable. According to the university, the $6.25 billion whisky industry produces more than 400 million gallons of pot ale and 187,000 tons of draff every year. So far, the scientists have filed a patent on the bio-fuel and plan to start a company that will develop it commercially.