University Develops Process to Produce Biobutanol from Whisky Byproducts

Researchers at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland, have developed a process to produce biobutanol from the by-products of whisky distilling. The university has filed a patent for the new fuel process, developed over the last two years by its Biofuel Research Centre.

As part of their research, the centre was provided with samples of whisky distilling by-products from Diageo’s Glenkinchie Distillery. The £260,000 (US$405,000)research project was funded by Scottish Enterprise’s Proof of Concept’program.

The process uses the two main by-products of the whisky production process—pot ale, the liquid from the copper stills; and draff, the spent grains—as the basis for producing the butanol that can then be used as fuel.

The whisky industry produces 1,600 million liters of pot ale and 187,000 tonnes of draff annually.

The University 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 gasoline pumps.


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