Whiskey Can Now Fuel Your Car?

You may soon be pumping Whiskey to fuel your car.

By Crystal Murdock | Published


With gas prices rising day by day, there may now a solution your pocketbook will thank you for. Vehicles powered by renewable, organic bio-fuel materials such as corn, sugar cane, and soya beans are not something new. However, vehicles powered by Whiskey are something that is new to the U.S., and given the cost-saving potential alternative bio-fuels have in comparison to gasoline-related expenses, they are likely something you will gladly raise a glass to. CNN Business reported that Whiskey, particularly the waste that it generates, could soon help fuel your car. 

With an estimated forty-four bottles of Scotch Whiskey being shipped around the globe every second, it is easily the most internationally traded Spirit in the world. Numerically speaking, Scotch whiskey generated a huge $5.9 billion in export revenue last year alone. However, with every bit of revenue whiskey generates, there is a huge amount of waste. Scientists have found a way to repurpose that waste into a fuel source.

CNN detailed that for every liter of whiskey, there are an estimated 2.5 kilograms of draff (solid by-product), 8 liters of potale (liquid), and 10 liters of spent lees (watery residue) all of which equate to waste materials. That is a total of 684,000 metric tons of draff and 2.3 billion liters of pot ale every year. Most of this Whiskey waste is used as animal feed, some end up in local landfills or is dumped into the oceans. 

Martin Tangney, a biofuel scientist and founder of Celtic Renewables has come up with a high-value use for the whiskey waste. Tangney has found a way to utilize fermentation as a way to transform the excess whiskey by-products into biochemicals that are able to replace some of the petro and diesel used in cars. This whiskey waste can also be utilized to make other oil-based products. 

Tangney begins the process of breaking down the waste from whiskey by using acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) fermentation. This process breaks down the bacteria in the sugars from within the whiskey draff and the pot ale into acids. The next step breaks the sugar and acids into solvents such as ethanol and butanol, which can be used as a replacement for petrol or diesel and will power a car. 

Celtic Renewables, which is founded by Tangney, has demonstrated this process as successful by driving an unmodified Ford in Scottland by using fifteen percent biobutanol made from whiskey bio-product waste materials. The fermentation process will not be limited to just the whiskey by-products. A future state could include waste from the dairy food sector. “That’s where we see ourselves adding value” stated Tangney. 

With bio-fuels only accounting for 3% of the fuel used in the transport industry, there is still a long way to go before a serious dent will be seen in carbon emissions and reduction of greenhouse gases but we all still will raise our shot glasses and make a toast on behalf of forward motion and the genius creativity and ideals behind using whiskey bu-products to power vehicles.