Whisky-fuelled car makes first journey

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Media caption,

World's first 'whisky-powered' car makes debut trip

The world's first car running on a biofuel made from whisky residue has had its first successful test drive.

The fuel, called biobutanol, is designed as a direct replacement for petrol and diesel and does not need the car to have its engine modified.

It is made from kernels of barley called draff, and pot ale - a yeasty liquid left over from fermentation.

BBC Scotland reporter Lisa Summers was behind the wheel for the car's first-ever journey using the whisky biofuel.

She said the car felt smooth on the short drive - and did not notice any difference from a petrol or diesel-fuelled vehicle.

While there is a push for major car manufacturers to commit to electric vehicles, biobutanol is seen by its inventors as an alternative which can power the vehicle without the need to modify its engine.

It was created by Celtic Renewables Ltd, a spinout company from Edinburgh Napier University, which worked with Perthshire's Tullibardine Distillery on the project.

Almost 750,000 tonnes of draff and two billion litres of pot ale are produced by the malt whisky industry in Scotland every year.

Image caption,
Prof Martin Tangney and chief executive Mark Simmers prepared the car for its first journey using the fuel

Celtic Renewables founder and president Prof Martin Tangney said the residue was of no value whatsoever to the whisky industry.

He added: "What we developed was a process to combine the liquid with the solid, and used an entirely different traditional fermentation process called ABE, and it makes the chemical called biobutanol.

"And that is a direct replacement, here and now, for petrol".

He added: "This is the first time in history that a car has ever been driven with a biofuel produced from whisky production residues.

"It is fitting to do this historic drive in Scotland, which is famous not just for its world-renowned whisky but also for being a powerhouse for renewable energy."

The Edinburgh-based company recently received a £9m government grant to build a commercial demonstrator plant in Grangemouth, near Falkirk, that will be fully operational by 2019.

It believes its whisky biofuel has huge global potential, and could create an industry in Scotland worth £100m.

But it will also be targeting other whisky-producing countries, such as Japan, India and the US.

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