Edinburgh-based scientist who developed fuel out of whisky honoured

Prof Martin Tangney, founder of Celtic Renewables showing the first sample of bio-butanol at The Scotch Whisky Experience, Edinburgh. Picture: Centre Press
Prof Martin Tangney, founder of Celtic Renewables showing the first sample of bio-butanol at The Scotch Whisky Experience, Edinburgh. Picture: Centre Press
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A scientist who developed a sustainable biofuel out of whisky has been awarded an honorary OBE.

Martin Tangney established the UK’s first research centre dedicated to the development of sustainable biofuel in 2007.

The Irish innovator, who teaches at Edinburgh Napier University, developed a process which converted residues left over by the whisky industry into a sustainable biofuel.

The first car running on the biofuel, which is called biobutanol, made its first successful test drive in July last year.

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It is produced from draff - the sugar-rich kernels of barley which are soaked in water to facilitate the fermentation process necessary for whisky production.

The other main ingredient is pot ale, the copper-containing yeasty liquid that is left over following distillation.

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Unlike other biofuels, biobutanol can be used as a direct replacement for road fuels like petrol or diesel.

The new fuel could become a direct replacement for petrol or diesel, and can even be used to make jet fuel.

Professor Tangey of Celtic Renewables called the honorary OBE an “incredible honour”.

He said: “This is an incredible honour that came very much out of the blue and I am humbled to be in the company of some outstanding Irish people who have received an Honorary OBE.

“An honour of this magnitude reflects far more than I could accomplish as an individual.

“I am very grateful to the many people who have guided and shaped my career, and me as a person, over the years which has resulted in this tremendous recognition.”

Professor Tangney is a recipient of the Institute for Chemical Engineers International Award of “Innovator of the Year” for his work - an innovation he is now commercialising as the Founder and President of Celtic Renewables Ltd.

In 2015 the company was named the “Most Innovative Biotech SME in Europe” at the parliament in Brussels.

Dr Mark Hanniffy, Consul General of Ireland in Scotland, said that the award is well-deserved.

He said: “I am delighted for Martin on this recognition of his work, which is richly deserved.

“He is a highly regarded figure in both the academic and the business communities in Scotland, and his work exemplifies the tremendous contribution that the Irish diaspora is making here”.

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