By using by-products (pot ale and draff) from the Glenkinchie Distillery in East Lothian, scientists from the Edinburgh Napier’s Biofuel Research Centre have been able to produce a viable biofuel. The £260,000 research project was funded by Scottish Enterprise’s ‘Proof of Concept’ programme. A patent has been filed for the new type of biofuel which doesn’t require any modification to existing cars. The University now plans to create a spin-out company to take the new fuel to market and leverage the commercial opportunity, in the bid to make it available at petrol pumps.
With 1,600 million litres of pot ale and 187,000 tonnes of draff produced by the malt whisky industry annually, there is real potential for bio-fuel to be available at local garage forecourts alongside traditional fuels.Professor Martin Tangney, Director of the Biofuel Research Centre at Edinburgh Napier University, is leading the ground-breaking research:
“The new method developed by the team produces butanol, which gives 30% more power output than the traditional biofuel ethanol. It is based on a 100-year-old process that was originally developed to produce butanol and acetone by fermenting sugar. The team has adapted this to use whiskey by-products as a starting point and has filed for a patent to cover the new method. It plans to create a spin-out company to commercialise the invention.”
Lena Wilson, chief executive, Scottish Enterprise, said: “This pioneering research is testament to Scotland’s world-class science base and demonstrates how Scottish Enterprise helps to transform cutting-edge knowledge into successful new high-growth sustainable businesses for Scotland.
“The Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept Programme is successful precisely because of its high caliber projects. By proactively taking innovative ideas from the laboratory to the global market place, Scotland can continue to compete at the highest level and successfully boost its economic recovery.”
Jim Mather, Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism said: “This is an innovative development, and I am delighted to see Edinburgh Napier University once again display its expertise in this field by bringing this biofuel to market.”
“I support the development and use of sustainable biofuels. This innovative use of waste products demonstrates a new sustainable option for the biofuel industry, while also supporting the economic and environmental objectives of the Scottish Government’s new Zero Waste Plan.”
“In these challenging economic times we need to play to our strengths and take advantage of the low carbon opportunities of the future.”
“It’s exactly this type of innovation that will help sustain economic recovery and deliver future sustainable economic growth.”