From Whiskey Residues to Renewable Energy
Waste Reduction

Are you a fan of whiskey? If you would like to enjoy Scottish brew in an eco-friendly way, you may want to switch to the “Tullibardine” brand. The Blackford based distillery partnered with the Edinburgh based “Celtic Renewables Ltd” by providing residues of by-product from whiskey production to produce biobutanol – a powerful biofuel capable of powering petrol based vehicles. By 2012, Tullibardine had the capacity to provide 6.5 million kg of draff and 2 million litres of pot ale for conversion to biofuel. This may certainly be a better use than their previous practice of spreading the residue on agriculture, animal feeds, or under the ocean, which would have otherwise cost them £250,000 for safe disposal.

The plan has been praised by ministers as a significant contribution to the Scottish government’s 2020 carbon reduction target as well as EU’s 2020 biofuel target. Tullibardine’s managing director Douglas Ross commented: “We are delighted [to partner] in this innovative venture… It takes a cost [from] us and turns it into something that has social as well as commercial value.” Meanwhile, Celtic Renewable’s director Martin Tangney remarked that their partnership combines two of Scotland’s most iconic industries – whisky and renewables.

In similar news, Researchers from the Academy of Finland’s sustainable energy research program also reports they have devised energy-efficient methods of converting by-products from the food industry as well as the pulp and paper industry into biobutanol, where they would have once ended up in landfills. Project lead professor Jukka Rintala explains that the biogas produced from such processes are a versatile source of energy. Not only can it be used for heat and electricity, but it can also be processed as vehicle fuel or placed into a city’s natural gas grid. Furthermore, the by-product from biobutanol production itself can be used as fertilizer or soil conditioner.

These stories of innovation seem to suggest that there are few limits to recycling and much to lose from wastage of materials from many different industries. So the next time you open a bottle of whiskey, or fuel up your car, it may be insightful to consider the role of sustainability and recycling in consumption.

Sources: Science DailyCeltic Renewables