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University develops biofuel derived from whisky by-products

A patent for a new biofuel derived from whisky by-products has been filed by a Scottish University.

Edinburgh Napier University’s Biofuel Research Centre developed the fuel from spent grains (‘draff’) and waste liquid (‘pot ale’) from Diageo’s Glenkinchie Distillery, East Lothian, with funding for the £260,000 project provided by Scottish Enterprise’s Proof of Concept programme.

The whisky-derived biofuel product, known as a biobutanol, is thought to provide 30% more output power than traditional ethanol, and can be used in ordinary cars without any modification.

With 1.6 million litres of pot ale and 187,000 tonnes of draff being produced by the malt whisky industry annually, the university now believes there is “real potential” for the fuel to be made available at petrol pumps in years to come, and plans to create a spin-off company to take the fuel to market.

Scottish minister for enterprise, energy and tourism Jim Mather said: “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 Zero Waste Plan.”

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