Those of you who know me well know that two things that I get really, really excited about are (1) whiskey, and (2) renewable energy. I also happen to have a soft spot for Scotland, because let’s be honest, there’s something incredible about a country that is best known for inventing bagpipes and kilts, and where everyone’s family gets their very own tartan.
Now we have one more reason to love this little island, and it’s only halfway related to how well known the Scottish are for having a good time. The country has already pledged to be 100% renewable by 2020, an ambitious goal for a nation that could get plenty of fossil fuel energy from the North Sea. A new project has just been launched that works towards that goal, using the byproduct of – wait for it – whiskey distilleries.
That’s right. Whiskey as biofuel. Well, not the whiskey itself – that would be a waste. What’s actually used is the draff (according to the internet, that’s what’s left of the gain after fermentation) as well as pot-ale (the residue from the sill), both of which are high-sugar byproducts of the distilling process. Ordinarily, they’d have to be disposed of by the distillery – until some clever scientists got the bright idea to use them as biofuels. The basic research on how to use whiskey as a biofuel has been around for several years, and projects to implement this technology first made news back in 2009 – 2010 when the first sixteen distilleries agreed to participate in a project that would generate enough energy to power 9,000 homes.
Reports now indicate that the energy isn’t just going towards powering homes, though – the butanol produced from these can actually be used as fuel for cars – regular, conventional cars. What’s even better for the distilleries? They saving around £250,000 per year – what they’d ordinarily spend disposing of the waste.
As my colleague TheGreenLight likes to say – cheers to that.