When Scotch whisky is distilled, it leaves behind two main waste products — a liquid called pot ale and draff, the remains of the grains used in the distilling method. These two waste products are being used by researchers at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland to create a new biofuel.

According to the Guardian, the Scottish have a £4 billion ($6.2 billion) a year whisky habit, and that habit leaves “copious quantities” of both pot ale and draff that in the past has gone unused. This biofuel can be used in regular cars — meaning there’s no need to adapt the engine as there is with some other biofuels. Researchers also say it's possible the biofuel could be used to fuel planes.

The biofuel, called butanol, gives 30 percent more power output than ethanol. With ethanol, corn crops are specifically grown to produce the biofuel. With the whisky waste butanol, no new crops are necessary. The grains grown for the Scotch whisky become the grains used in the biofuel, making this new type of biofuel more environmentally sustainable.

So, if we want to move away from fueling our cars with oil, perhaps we should start drinking more whisky. The more whisky we drink, the more waste there will be to create biofuel, right?

In all seriousness, this seems like a step in the right direction for finding alternatives to oil. The European Union has set a goal that biofuels will account for 10 percent of all fuel sales by 2020. Researchers say this new biofuel could contribute significantly to this goal.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Drink more whisky. Save the Earth.
The Scottish are making a promising biofuel from what's left behind from the whisky distillation process.