Kaid Benfield Archive


Stay thirsty, my friends: Whisky power is displacing fossil fuels

Kaid Benfield

Posted March 6, 2012 at 1:25PM

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  bottles of Scotch whisky (by: Milos Kravcik, creative commons license)

I’ve been following the whisky power story with great interest.  Didn’t know there was one?  Do read on:

Last year, I reported an announcement by Scotland-based Helius Power that the company was building a 7.2-megawatt  electricity plant in Morayshire, fueled by residues from malt whisky distilling.  That’s the equivalent output of two wind turbines, enough to power 9,000 homes.  And you can’t drink wind, can you?

Now, whisky power is going mobile.  The design website Inhabitat reports that Edinburgh Napier University has developed a process to transform waste products from whisky distilling (pot ale and draff) into fuel to run vehiclesScotch whisky distillery (by: User:Nicor, creative commons license)(Pot ale is a liquid residue from copper stills, and draff comes from the spent grains used to create whisky.)  A story on the site by Brit Liggett says that a professor from the University has founded a company called Celtic Renewables Ltd,, with its main goal “to produce biofuels on a commercial scale from whisky byproduct that act as a direct replacement for gasoline.”

Each year, Liggett writes, the Scottish whisky industry produces 422 million gallons of pot ale and 560,000 tons of draff during its production that generally have gone to landfills. 

This sounds like a win-win to me.  My recommendation:  pour or order your whisky neat, and savor it slowly.  Don't drive if you're having more than one, and make mine MacCallan.  It’s good for the planet. 

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