Whisky science finds way of putting a dram in your tank

Scientists have created a biofuel from whisky by-products which could be used to help power cars.

Edinburgh Napier University has filed a patent for the product, which can be used in ordinary cars without any special adaptions, scientists said.

The biofuel has been developed over two years by the university's Biofuel Research Centre.

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As part of the research the centre was provided with samples of whisky distilling by-products from Diageo's Glenkinchie Distillery in Tranent, East Lothian.

The biofuel uses the two main by-products from the whisky production process – "pot ale", the liquid from the copper stills, and "draff", the spent grains, as the basis to produce the butanol that can then be used as fuel.

The university plans to create a "spin-out" company to take the fuel to the marketplace.

Professor Martin Tangney, who is leading the research and is director of the Biofuel Research Centre, said: "The EU has declared that biofuels should account for 10 per cent of total fuel sales by 2020. We're committed to finding new, innovative renewable energy sources.

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"The new biofuel is made from biological material which has been already generated. Theoretically it could be used entirely on its own but you would have to find a company to distribute it.

"The most likely form of distribution of the biofuel would be a blend of perhaps five per cent or 10 per cent of the biofuel with petrol or diesel but five per cent or 10 per cent means less oil which would make a big, big difference."

He added: "We've worked with some of the country's leading whisky producers to develop the process."

The 260,000 research project was funded by Scottish Enterprise's Proof of Concept programme.