Cheers! Scottish team concocts whiskey car fuel

No, they aren't wasting your favorite vice: The butanol fuel is made from whiskey by-products that would otherwise be discarded.

The world's largest whiskey collection in Edinburgh, Scotland. Don't worry, eager biofuels researchers won't be raiding it. CC: Flickr user Danny Nicholson

Alcohol has no place behind the wheel of a car, but a team of Scottish scientists believe it might be perfect for the fuel tank: Researchers at Edinburgh Napier University's Biofuel Research Center, according to a report in Sky News, say they have successfully used whiskey by-products to form a butanol biofuel.

Lovers of fine scotch and bourbon may rest assured that this fuel is made from by-products, not the whiskey itself, so that no potable spirits are being put to waste.

The researchers' formula combines pot ale, which is a fluid coming from distillery equipment, with the grains left over from the production of whiskey. Oddly enough, Sky News added that it's derived from a process that was used to manufacture explosives during World War I and II (yikes--let's hope this fuel goes through extensive safety testing), and that butanol fuels can be up to 25 percent more efficient than their better-known ethanol siblings.

Some start-ups and researchers have highlighted the amusing correlation between drinkable alcohol and experimental biofuels , with one company, E-Fuel, even unveiling its home ethanol generators at a bar and claiming that you could technically dump tequila into them to produce fuel --explaining on a more serious note that early experiments in alcohol-based biofuels had been curtailed by the onset of Prohibition legislation.

Last year, beer manufacturer Sierra Nevada Brewing entered into a partnership with E-Fuel to start testing the use of beer by-products as feedstock for ethanol fuel.

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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