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How whisky waste could fuel cars

  • 23 August 2022
  • ckearns

A new production plant in Scotland is expected to convert whisky byproducts into butanol, which can be used in cars.

AUGUST 5, 2022

Scotland exports about 1.3 billion bottles of whisky each year. And for every bottle that leaves the country, a lot of leftover barley and yeasty liquid known as pot ale remains.

“Only 10% of what you put in the front end of the distillery actually ends up as whisky maturing in a barrel afterwards,” says Martin Tangney, president and founder of Celtic Renewables. “So these other two dominant residues – the barley and the pot ale – need to be disposed of.”

But Tangney does not think of those industry byproducts as garbage.

“One man’s waste is another man’s gold,” he says.

Celtic Renewables uses a fermentation process to convert the byproducts of whisky production into animal feed and several biochemical products — including butanol that can be used to fuel cars.

“You don’t need to modify engines, you can blend it at any concentration you like,” Tangney says. “So it really is a potentially here-and-now replacement for fossil fuels.”

Tangney’s company is building a production plant in Scotland that will process material from local distilleries. So it will reduce waste from the whisky industry while providing an alternative to fossil fuels … and it will give whisky lovers another reason to raise a glass.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media

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