Scottish Scientists: Whiskey Biofuel to Power Autos

At first blush, this seems like a terrible waste of good scotch. But chalk it up to the march of science.

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At the University of Edinburgh, researchers say they have come up with a whiskey biofuel for automobiles. According to Sky News:

They combined so-called pot ale - the liquid from the copper stills distillery equipment - and the spent grains used to make whisky, also known as draff, to produce butanol. This form of alcohol can then be used as fuel to drive a vehicle, much like ethanol.

However, the Scottish scientists said butanol was superior to ethanol - with 25% more energy per unit volume.

Also, the biofuel can be introduced to unmodified engines with any petrol blend, whereas ethanol can only be blended up to 85% and requires engine modification.

With 1,600 million litres of pot ale and 187,000 tons of draff produced annually by the malt whisky industry, there is potential for the new biofuel to be available on the garage forecourt.

The research is said to be an offshoot of technology once used to make explosives during the first and second world wars. (It's not an entirely unique idea. As CNET's Martin LaMonica notes, beer manufacturer Sierra Nevada Brewing is already in a partnership with E-Fuel to test the use of beer by-products as feedstock for ethanol fuel.) You can read the full report here