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Investment secured for growth

Pioneering ‘whisky fuel’ firm raises £500,000

Martin TangneyA company that produced the world’s first biofuel capable of powering cars from whisky residues has received £500,000 in a new round of investment, taking its valuation to £10million.

Celtic Renewables has raised £250,000 from the Scottish Investment Bank, he investment arm of Scottish enterprise, with a further £250,000 equity stake from an existing private investor.

The cash boost was announced at a reception in Edinburgh by Professor Martin Tangney (pictured), the founder and president of Celtic Renewables, and Paul Lewis, managing director of operations at Scottish Enterprise.

It follows the unveiling earlier this month of the first samples of bio-butanol from the by-products of whisky fermentation using a process developed by scientists at the company.

It believes the industry could be worth £100million to the UK economy, and the company hopes to build its first demonstration facility at the Grangemouth petrochemical plant by 2018.

Professor Tangney said: “We have successfully taken a defunct technology and adapted it to current market conditions, attracting the investment and partners required to scale-up to industrial production and prove that this works at scale.”

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said the technology would helps reduce emissions from fossil fuel driven cars.

Mr Lewis said: “Celtic Renewables is leading the way in the development of the fast growing biofuels sector, and is a great example of how a company with global growth opportunities can be created from pioneering research that has significant commercial potential.

“Scotland is really punching above its weight when it comes biofuels, and the growth of companies such as Celtic Renewables has a key part to play in the sector’s development.”

The Scottish Government recently launched the National Plan for Industrial Biotechnology which aims to help increase industrial biotechnology to £900m by 2025.

Celtic Renewables, in partnership with the Ghent-based Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (BBEPP), produced the first samples of bio-butanol from waste using a process called the Acetone-Butanol-Ethanol (ABE) fermentation earlier this month.

The ABE fermentation was first developed in the UK a century ago, but died out in competition with the petrochemical industry. However bio-butanol is now recognised as an advanced biofuel – a direct replacement for petrol – and Celtic Renewables is seeking to reintroduce the process to Europe for the first time since the 1960s, using the millions of tonnes of annual whisky production residues as their unique raw material.

The biofuel is produced from draff – the sugar rich kernels of barley which are soaked in water to facilitate the fermentation process necessary for whisky production – and pot ale, the copper-containing yeasty liquid that is left over following distillation.

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