Monday, April 25, 2022

Whisky Waste Could Fuel Your Car

About 44 bottles of Scotch Whisky are shipped around the Globe every second, making it the World's most Internationally traded Spirit and Generating Export Revenues of $5.9 billion, last year.

But for every Liter of Whisky, there is a huge amount of Waste:

- Around 2.5 kilograms of Solid by-products known as Draff.

- 8 Liters of Liquid known as Pot Ale.

- 10 Liters of spent Lees, a Watery Residue.

This amounts to 684,000 metric tons of Draff and over 2.3 billion Liters of Pot Ale every year, according to Zero Waste Scotland. Some is used for Animal Feed, and some goes to Landfill or is Dumped in Rivers and Oceans.

One Biofuel Scientist has come up with a Creative, high-value use for this Waste. Martin Tangney, Founder of Celtic Renewables, uses a Fermentation Process to transform Whisky By-Products into Biochemicals that can Replace some of the Petrol and Diesel used in Cars, and can be used to make other Oil-based Products, too.

In the late 1800s, Rudolph Diesel experimented with Peanut Oil as the original Fuel for his namesake Engine, and in the 1930s, Henry Ford saw Plant-based Ethanol as the "fuel of the future." But using Crops was costly, and Oil provided an Inexpensive Alternative. Tangney's Goal was to find a Cheap base Material to make Biofuels Commercially viable, as well as more Sustainable.

He set up the UK's First Biofuel Research Center at Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2007, and explored "everything from newspaper to seaweed" before settling on Whisky By-Products. Seeing the Commercial potential, Tangney formed Celtic Renewables in 2011 as a spin out from the University.

The Startup uses a Process known as Acetone-Butanol-Ethanol (ABE) Fermentation in which Bacteria break down the Sugars in the Whisky Draff and Pot Ale into Acids. They in turn are further broken down into Solvents such as Butanol and Ethanol, which can be added to Petrol or Diesel to Power a Car.

Celtic Renewables has demonstrated its Fuel, driving an Unmodified Ford on Scottish roads using 15% Biobutanol made from Whisky. Tangney says his Fermentation process isn't limited to Whisky By-Products, and could use Waste from other Food sectors such as Dairy. "That's where we see ourselves as adding value," he says.

Scale is also an issue. With Biofuels currently accounting for just 3% of the Fuel used in Global Transport, they have a long way to go before they will make a serious dent in Carbon Emissions and Greenhouse Gases. Instead, the Transport sector should emphasize Reducing Demand. That makes it much easier to supply the rest of our Transport needs from Sustainable sources, whether that's Renewable Electricity, Biogas or Liquid Biofuels.

There are already Whisky-powered Vehicles driving around Scotland since 2008. Glenfiddich Distillery, operated by William Grant & Sons, uses Biogas made on-site from the By-Products of its own Whisky to Power some of its Trucks, reducing the Trucks' Carbon Emissions by 90%.

Whisky Waste can be used to create more than Biofuels. The Solvents from its Fermentation can be used as an alternative to Oil in: Clothing, Cosmetics, Electronics, Plastics, and Pharmaceuticals, says Tangney.

Celtic Renewables has raised more than $52 million, with backing from: crowd funding, Government Grants, and Private Investors, in addition to Support from Napier University, which remains a Shareholder.

The Company built Scotland's first Biorefinery last year, with the Capacity to convert 50,000 metric tons of Whisky By-Products into Biochemicals.

Tangney says the Plant will be fully Operational later this year, once Testing is complete.

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