Scottish startup looking to turn whisky dregs into biobutanol

Jun 20, 2013 by Bob Yirka weblog
Scottish startup looking to turn whisky dregs into biobutanol

(Phys.org) —Scottish-based company Celtic Renewables is looking to use waste materials from the whiskey production process to make biobutanol, which can be used to power engines. The process, called acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE), is based on using the bacteria Clostridium acetobutylicum to break down materials in the waste.

Making whiskey is not an efficient process, as just 10 percent of the liquids that flow out are drinkable product—the rest is draff and pot ale. Industry records show that Scotland whiskey makers produce over a billion and half liters of such waste annually—currently it's disposed of, costing the Scottish whiskey industry millions of dollars. Celtic Renewables wants to take that waste and use it to make biobutanol. Eager to reduce their costs, whiskey distilleries are open to the idea. One of them, Tullibardine, is currently supplying both pot ale and draff to the startup for use in its .

Biobutanol is similar in many respects to ethanol: it's made via fermentation. The process of making it was first developed by Chaim Weizmann, who famously eventually became the first president of Israel. Back then, the idea was to create acetone for making munitions. Later uses for the process were overtaken by petroleum-based products and thus it laid unused for generations. Now, researchers at Celtic are using it to ferment whiskey waste into biobutanol, which is believed to have 25 percent more energy by volume than ethanol. It can be used alone as a or mixed with either gasoline or . Another plus, the company has said that it doesn't require new crops or land for its production—it will be made entirely from waste products. Currently, that means waste from whiskey making, but reps from the company say they are hoping to expand to converting waste from wine and beer making, wood processing, and commercial food preparation waste as well.

The company is now at the halfway point in its , so it's not yet known if the process is cost-effective. In addition to producing 10,000 liters of biobutanol, the company will also produce bioacetone, and solid waste that can be processed and sold as animal feed.

Explore further: Solar-powered two-seat Sunseeker airplane has progress report

More information: via National Geographic

Related Stories

Celtic Renewables aims to process next-gen biofuel

Sep 26, 2012

(Phys.org)—A distillery agreement between two companies in Scotland is to turn whiskey byproducts into fuel. Those who look forward to a bright future of biofuels that are easier on the environment will ...

Recommended for you

Switch on sunlight for a brighter future

17 hours ago

Imagine sitting in a windowless room yet having the feeling of the sun shining on your face. This unique experience is now possible thanks to the COELUX EU-funded project which recreates the physical and ...

US urged to drop India WTO case on solar

Apr 23, 2014

Environmentalists Wednesday urged the United States to drop plans to haul India to the WTO to open its solar market, saying the action would hurt the fight against climate change.

Is nuclear power the only way to avoid geoengineering?

Apr 23, 2014

"I think one can argue that if we were to follow a strong nuclear energy pathway—as well as doing everything else that we can—then we can solve the climate problem without doing geoengineering." So says Tom Wigley, one ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Claudius
1 / 5 (1) Jun 20, 2013
"It's--uh... (sniffs contents of bottle) Well, it's green."

More news stories

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.