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article image'Whisky powered' cars being considered

By Tim Sandle     Jul 7, 2014 in Science
Glasgow - The company Celtic Renewables has partnered with a Belgian pilot plant to bring its bio-fuel made from whisky production residue to an industrial scale.
While whisky and cars should not normally mix, Scottish biofuel company Celtic Renewables has launched an agreement with the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (BBEPP) in Ghent with the aim to turn whisky by-products into biofuel.
Celtic Renewables is a spin-out from the Biofuel Research Centre at Edinburgh Napier University. The company has produced biobutanol from draff — the sugar-rich kernels of barley which are soaked in water to facilitate the fermentation process necessary for whisky production — and pot ale, the yeasty liquid that is heated during distillation.
Although the process has worked within the laboratory, it needs to be replicated at an industrial scale for the product to be realistically used as a biofuel. To produce a biofuel involves the application of an enzyme. Polysaccharides (sugar polymers) that make up the bulk of the sugar source have to be broken down into simple sugars. These are then fermented to produce liquid biofuels.
Celtic Renewables aims to move to large scale production at the Belgium demonstrator pilot facility, Europe’s first independent open innovation centre for the bio-based economy. The facility specialises in process development, scale-up and custom manufacturing of bio-based products and processes. The partnership has been made possible by second round funding worth €1.5 million.
The company is hopeful that the cooperation will facilitate the production of the world’s first industrial samples of biobutanol derived from whisky production residues, allowing it to be used as a direct replacement for petrol and diesel. The other advantage is that this could take place without the need to modify engines.
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