Leave it to the Scots to put whiskey to good use. Researchers at Edinburgh Napier University have created a new kind of butanol from the remnants of the whiskey distilling process.
They claim the new fuel is 30 percent stronger than ethanol and could be used in vehicles without adapting the engine. The whiskey-fuel could very well come to gas pumps in the UK in the next few years.
The more than $6 billion whiskey industry in the UK creates plenty of waste to go around, and unlike ethanol, the fuel comes from discarded by-products.
“What people need to do is stop thinking ‘either or’; people need to stop thinking like for like substitution for oil,” Professor Martin Tangney, the director of the project told the Guardian. “That’s not going to happen. Different things will be needed in different countries.”
Well, using Scotch whiskey seems appropriate, then. The team has developed a new method based off the original process used 100 years ago, which used fermented sugar to create butanol and acetone.
Today, they are using pot ale, which is the leftover liquid from the copper stills and leftover grain remnants called draft to create the fuel.
The team believes that their new whiskey-fuel will not only be able to power cars in the near future, but aircrafts as well, and act as the base for solvents such as acetone.
The project seems to benefit the environment all around.
“The production of some biofuels can cause massive environmental damage to forests and wildlife,” said Dr. Richard Dixon of the World Wildlife Fund in Scotland. “So whiskey powered-cars could help Scotland avoid having to use those forest-trashing biofuels.”
A patent application has already been filed for the fuel and the researchers are in the process of setting up a company to offer the butanol to gas stations.
Story by Katie Leavitt, originally published on August 18, 2010 on Tonic