суббота, 4 мая 2013 г.
Scientists in Scotland are using the country's favourite tipple to create next-generation biofuels which
could have economic and environmental benefits. EPTV investigates.
Putting crops into cars was the idea behind the first generation of biofuels aimed at reducing CO2
However, this led to a global food crisis with land being cleared for fuel rather than food.
The EU is now working to reverse this trend.
“The idea is to move over to biofuels of the second and third generation, which use either waste or a
non-food part of plants. I think that's a very interesting economic development model which could allow
research and development to discover real prospects and to develop the European industry.”
In Scotland they're developing a way of getting from A to B on whisky.
Think of Scotland, and whisky instantly springs to mind.
This iconic industry is worth 4.6 billion euros to the economy.
But it comes at a huge cost to the environment.
It is one of the most energy-intensive industries.
No figures exist for its carbon footprint, but now they're trying to cover their tracks.
Here at Tullibardine Distillery only 3% of all products that go through the whisky distillery process end
up in the bottle that you buy. The remaining 97% ends up as waste.
It has to be discarded at a cost of 293,000 euros per year.
So it makes economic and environmental sense to turn their whisky green.
The malt whisky process has changed little in over 200 years.
It involves just three ingredients: water, barley and yeast.
“What that stuff is is pot ale, which is basically water with a lot of dead yeast in it.
That's another waste product.
Then it goes out into tanks outside.
And a road tanker comes along and takes that away.The draff up there goes to a local dairy farmer who feeds his cows with the draff.
This stuff gets sprayed back on to the fields with other chemicals added to it.”
The whisky industry traditionally recycles its waste for fertiliser and animal feed.
But this man had another idea for meeting renewable energy targets.
“I'd love to say, I had a eureka moment in the bath, and a lovely story to tell about drinking a dram of
whisky and having inspiration. But it was a matter of looking to see where was the biggest source of raw
material we could tap into and derive value where there was no value.”
The Biofuel Research Centre in Edinburgh took a 100-year-old scientific process to produce biobutanol, a
next-generation biofuel, and adapted it for whisky.
“When you've malted the barley, you're left with this material.
When you distil off the alcohol, you have the distillate from the copper stills.
So we developed a process where we combine this liquid material with this solid material and make a
new raw material that we re-ferment with different organisms that produce high-value chemicals,
including this, which is butanol. So we aim to produce something like this, which is a fermentation
vessel. This will be done at much larger scale in industry than we have done in the lab.”
Biobutanol can be put directly into cars and has 25% more energy per unit volume than bioethanol,
which was the favoured biofuel until recently.
Advanced biofuels could meet up to 4.3% of the UK's 10% renewable transport fuel target by 2020, and
save 3.2 million tonnes of CO2 each year.
It's the equivalent of taking nearly a million cars off the road.
Celtic Renewables is the company that hopes to capitalise on the lab's research.
“The business model is to take two very low-value commodities or residues and convert them into five
or six much-needed high-value commodities that the UK is currently importing. So there's as much
acetone imported into the UK as there is whisky exported. Biobutanol is an advanced-generation biofuel
that the country needs to meet its biofuel targets.”
Scaling the five-litre lab model up to a 10,000-litre working plant incurs costs into the millions.
Celtic Renewables are in talks with Tullibardine Distillery and larger companies such as Diageo to take
their project to the next level.
Here in Leith beside the old whisky bond storehouses, the director of Friends of the Earth Scotland
explained why whisky makers are cleaning up their act.
“There's a whole range of factors. European regulation is part of it. Probably water regulation was the
first one to make them think, 'We'd better take this environment stuff seriously.'
But also the high cost of fuels and some consumer pressure, because people are looking in a premium
product for the green credentials.”
Whisky is a serious business in Scotland.Customers are always looking out for the latest trend.
“I am a whisky drinker, and I guess any kind of...
As a whisky drinker, you're interested in many different aspects about whisky.
With whisky, any kind of story behind any distillery is a good story to tell to the customer if they want to
ask about whiskies.”
Celtic Renewables hopes to have plants operational by the end of this year. So soon whisky drinkers can
enjoy their favourite tipple with a clearer conscience.