Scottish cars could be powered by whisky

Last time we at TechEye got the still in the attic on the go, we didn’t really get any waste products as such – it all went down a treat.

But the people that make the bottled stuff are a bit pickier, and apparently get stuff called ‘pot-ale’ and ‘draff’ left over.

And being famously tighter than a bagpiper’s jewels on a February day, the Scots have found a way of putting it to good use.

Edinburgh Napier University has filed a patent for a new biofuel based on whisky residue, which can be used in ordinary cars without any adaptation at all.

“There is real potential for bio-fuel to be available at local garage forecourts alongside traditional fuels,” says the team. And it’s viable on a commercial scale, they say.

There must be more whiskey sloshing around out there than we realised – ah, those missed opportunities – because there’s certainly plenty of slops.

Apparently the distilling industry generates 1,600 million litres of pot ale – the liquid from the copper stills – and 187,000 tonnes of draff, the spent grain, every year.

The researchers were given samples from Diageo’s Glenkinchie Distillery (which has given us some ideas, I can tell you. I’ve already put in a call to Piper-Heidsieck about the possibility of a champagne-fuelled bicycle, and Green & Black said a chocolate-powered skateboard ‘sounded fun’).

The team used the whisky sludge to make biobutanol, which gives 30 percent more output than ethanol. Apparently the basic process has been around for 100 years, but the team took two years to refine it – well, who’d rush with all that free Scotch on tap?

“I am delighted to see Edinburgh Napier University once again display its expertise in this field,” slurred enterprise minister Jim Mather, presumably referring to the team’s previous work in powering spacecraft with amphetamines.

“In these challenging economic times we need to play to our strengths.”