‘I’m not sure I could have done this anywhere else in the world other than Scotland. We’ve had tremendous support from the Scottish Government.’ Professor Martin Tangney
As recently as August this year we heard of a car using biofuel from ‘draff’, the residue of husks after fermentation of the grain and the residual waste liquid ‘pot ale’, being driven round Edinburgh in July. See:
We also heard in the same month of another use by growing algae from Whisky ‘co-products’ and feeding the omega 3 rich algae to fish. See:
Less than four months after the drive round Edinburgh, a new demonstration plant to make a petrol substitute from whisky residue, in Grangemouth, has had planning approval. Celtic Renewables Ltd aim to produce half a million litres of the biofuel, Biobutanol, per year, commencing in early 2018.
The plant will use some of the 750,000 tonnes of draff and two billion litres of ‘pot ale’ produced by the Perthshire, Tullibardine Distillery. Reported in Energy Voice, Celtic Renewables say:
‘This is a very exciting time for biotechnology in Scotland. Our plant, which will use entirely sustainable raw materials to make high value low carbon products, will be the first of its kind in the world. It will shine a global spotlight on innovation in Scotland in the low carbon economy.’
Locating the plant in Grangemouth which is Scotland’s petrochemical hub makes perfect sense and as a former, temporary, ‘Portonian’ myself, I’m really pleased to see a former boom town but one currently a bit down on its heels, get an employment boost. Back in the 70s, before I went to university as a mature student, I had worked in the former ICI Chemicals plant there making the blue dye used in denims. It was my wee contribution to the Love Generation.
Celtic Renewables seem sure that their new biofuel will be ‘low carbon.’ I couldn’t find direct evidence from them, so I had a look around and found this peer-reviewed research paper:
‘Production of biofuels promises substantial improvement in air quality through reducing emission from burning of the fuel used in vehicle engines. Some of the developing countries have started biofuel pro‐duction and utilization as transport fuel in local market. Thus, below are described some important conclusions that we can be done about the use of biofuels by vehicle engines. Compared to fossil diesel, the emission of regulated and non-regulated compounds from biofuels burning are generally equal or lower. An exception is NOx emission, which is generally higher with use of the biofuels, more specifically of the biodiesel use. The amount of compounds emitted, depends considerably on the type of engine, its configuration, the load condition and the use of a catalyzer. In most cases, reducing the emission of unwanted compounds requires modification in the standard engines for the use of biodiesel and/or raw vegetable oil and ethanol.’
As I understand it, the car driven round Edinburgh required no modification. As for the ominous sounding NOx, this is Nitrogen Oxides which do contribute to the production of smog and acid rain. I searched for ‘Celtic Renewables fuel nitrogen oxide’ but found nothing, so if any reader can find out if the Celtic Renewables fuel does or does not do so that would be interesting.