Bio-butanol from whisky

I received this news from my colleague a couple of weeks ago regarding the development of whisky as another bio-butanol feedstock source. I thought that will be such a waste of a good drink.

Fortunately, researchers from the Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland are instead using two main by-products of the whisky production process – ‘pot ale’, the liquid from the copper stills, and ‘draff’, the spent grains for producing butanol for fuel.

The fuel process has been in development over the last two years by Edinburgh Napier’s Biofuel Research Centre, which received £260,000 ($400,000) funding from Scottish Enterprise’s ‘Proof of Concept’ program, which supports the pre-commercialisation of leading-edge technologies emerging from Scotland’s universities and research institutes.

The Edinburgh Napier team focused on the £4bn whisky industry as a ripe resource for developing biobutanol. The whisky by-products were provided by Diageo’s Glenkinchie Distillery.

The malt whisky industry is said to produce 1,600 million liters of pot ale and 187,000 tonnes of draff every year.

The University plans to create a spin-out company to take the new fuel to market. I guess I’ll be adding them to my list of bio-butanol producers soon!

Speaking of bio-butanol, I just finished an article about it on ICIS Chemical Business, which will be published next week Monday. Unfortunately, it will be for subscribers only.

I also received an email tonight (it’s 11:03p now) from the vice president of China-based Cathay Industrial Biotech stating that the company is looking into building a bio-butanol facility in the US. Cathay Biotech is currently producing 100,000 metric tonnes/year of corn-based bio-butanol and acetone in China.

I’m planning to talk to Cathay Biotech soon and will post an update on this news.

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