Whisky-Fuelled Cars to Help Tackle Pollution in India

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A Scottish biofuel company’s technology could see motorists in India driving vehicles fueled by waste left over from the whisky distillation process. 

Edinburgh-based Celtic Renewables has signed a deal with Indian company Dross Energy to create an alternative sustainable form of car fuel, in an effort to tackle the serious pollution problem in the Ganges river.

Celtic Renewables, a Edinburgh Napier University spin-off, has developed technology that converts residues from whisky production into a new green fuel, biobutanol, that can power vehicles.

Biobutanol is designed as a direct replacement for petrol and diesel, which means the car does not need to have its engine modified.

During the whisky distillation process, only 10% of what is created becomes whisky, the remainder is draff and pot ale – a yeasty liquid left over from fermentation. Almost 500,000 tonnes of draft and 1,600m litres of pot ale are produced as by-products by Scotland’s whisky industry every year.

Game-Changing Technology

Professor Martin Tangney, founder and president of Celtic Renewables, said: “The technology developed by Celtic Renewables is a game-changer for the Indian brewing and distilling industry, which has been widely criticised for dumping residue from the distilling process into the Ganges – a source of drinking water for over 400 million people.

“The Indian Government has committed several billion pounds to pollution-reduction and river-rejuvenation through its dedicated arm, the National Mission for Clean Ganga, and I am proud our company will be part of the solution.”

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A spokesman for Dross Energy said: “We are hugely excited to be the company to bring this ground-breaking technology to India. The technology is innovative and exciting, and we want to be the second country in the world, behind Scotland, to commercialise the process for the benefit of the environment.”

The technology has the potential to significantly cut oil consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, while also providing future energy security. Not only is the innovative process more environmentally friendly, it also produces other sustainable chemicals such as acetone and ethanol, as well as animal feed.

Previously, the company received a £9m government grant to build a commercial demonstrator plant in Grangemouth, near Falkirk, which is expected to be fully operational by 2019.

Celtic Renewables estimates that the whisky biofuel market could create an industry worth £100 million in Scotland. The company has also received support from Scottish Development International (SDI) and the Scottish Government’s Hydro initiative.

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