Whitley Workstations are manufactured primarily for use in hospitals, public health laboratories, food testing organisations, pharmaceutical companies and research institutions. However one piece of Don Whitley Scientific equipment has found its home at one of the most interesting and exciting biofuel production companies in the UK, Celtic Renewables Ltd.
Professor Martin Tangney founded Celtic Renewables in 2012 at Edinburgh Napier University. After searching for a low cost renewable energy source he opted to look at using residues from the Whisky industry to produce biobutanol, a fuel which can be blended with both petrol and diesel. By using the by-products of one of Scotland’s most popular exports (the Scottish Malt Whisky industry is worth £4 billion) he has built a hugely successful biofuel company that has gained attention and acclaim worldwide.
Celtic Renewables Ltd adapt the ABE fermentation process (Acetone-Butanol-Ethanol) to use a sustainable substrate combining solid and liquid residues from the whisky industry which is fermented by bacteria to produce biobutanol.
The Whitley DG500 Anaerobic Workstation is used to do all small scale manipulations of anaerobic strains (solventogenic strains of Clostridia) during this process. Eve Bird, Head of Research and Innovation points out that within a Whitley Workstation “These manipulations are far more convenient, safe and reliable than carrying them out within glass bottles rendered anaerobic with an over-pressure of sterile nitrogen”.
This process also provides a sustainable method of by-product disposal for one of the UK’s largest industries. Only 10% of a distillery’s output is future whisky, the rest is Draff and Pot Ale which are the two by-products combined to create the substrate from which biobutanol is produced. This biofuel can then be used as a direct replacement for fossil-derived fuel, reducing oil consumption and carbon dioxide emissions whilst providing energy security and making efforts to meet EU mandated biofuel targets.