Whisky-powered fuel run cars
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Whisky-powered fuel to run cars

6:47 AM, 9th September 2015
Whisky-powered fuel to run cars
Celtic Renewables bags £11 million grant after winning department for transport competition.

EDINBURGH, UK: Celtic Renewables Ltd is the biggest winner in a competition run by the department for transport (DFT), earning an £11 million grant to help it build the world’s first plant dedicated to the production of advanced biofuel from the residues of the whisky industry.

The company is one of three advanced biofuel producers to share in a £25 million funding pot. The winners were announced by Andrew Jones, the UK transport minister at Celtic Renewables’ headquarters at Edinburgh Napier University.

The company will use the funding to build a biofuel facility that will be operational by Dec 2018, producing at least 1 million litre of biofuel, capable of powering cars, every year.

Professor Martin Tangney, the company’s founder and President, said he was delighted with the award which would allow it to create Europe’s first facility for acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) fermentation for 50 years.

The process, that uses bacterial fermentation to produce advanced biofuels from carbohydrates such as starch and glucose, was originally devised in the UK at the start of the last century to produce acetone for explosives used in the first world war. It was phased-out in the 1960s due to competition from the petrochemical industry.

“Our aim is to reintroduce that process but in a modern context which allows us to use the leftovers from the whisky industry to create a fuel source that contributes to the low carbon future we all want,” said Tangney.

“We have already attracted investment and partners in the private sector and this funding announced today will allow us to scale-up to industrial production. Our next step is to open a demonstration facility and we are targeting a location in or near Grangemouth which is an area that’s strategically right for us,” he added.

“The point of the competition was to reward companies that take low value waste and use their intellectual meat to create something of high value which also contributes to low carbon development, manufacturing and science,” said Jones.

Celtic Renewables, a spin-out company from the Biofuel Research Centre (BfRC) at Edinburgh Napier University, has spent the last 18 months developing its process as part of a £1million programme funded by the department for energy and climate change (DECC) under its energy entrepreneurs fund.

Biofuel is produced 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 copper-containing yeasty liquid that is left over following distillation.

The other companies which won funding in the DFT competition are Teesside-based Nova Pangaea, which produces biofuel from forestry waste and Swindon-based Advanced Plasma Products.

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