PRESS RELEASE – 30/10/2012

One of the most eminent scientists in Scotland has been shortlisted for a top international honour for his work in converting whisky waste into biofuel.

Professor Martin Tangney, Founder and President of the Edinburgh-based company Celtic Renewables, has been shortlisted as Innovator of the Year by the Institute of Chemical Engineering at the IChemE 2012 Awards.

The award is one of only two individual accolades offered by the Institute to mark outstanding contribution to scientific advancement, the other recognising the work of young chemical engineers. Others shortlisted candidates for the award include leading scientists from Australia, America and Singapore. Scotland is well represented at the awards, with Scottish and Southern Energy and Scottish Water both making the international shortlists in other categories.

Professor Tangney has been recognised for his groundbreaking work in developing the technology to produce biobutanol from the by-products of whisky production.

Last month Celtic Renewables signed a memorandum of understanding with Tullibardine Distillery in Perthshire, which became the first whisky distillery in the world to have its by-products converted into advanced biofuel, capable of directly powering vehicles which run on petrol and diesel.
The company is currently undertaking commercial trials on the process, in partnership with Tullibardine, at the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) at Redcar, in Teesside, with funding from Zero Waste Scotland.

Professor Tangney said he was honoured to be recognised by the Institute and to be included in such eminent company.

“This shows that companies and scientists in Scotland are still leading the way with innovation, particularly in the renewable energy sector,” he said.

Dr Sandy Dobbie, Chairman of Chemical Sciences Scotland, the strategic partnership of the chemical industry, Scotland’s universities and its government agencies, welcomed the recognition, “Martin is a classic example of the entrepreneurial spirit that constantly drives innovation in our £10 billion chemical sector, which is second only to whisky in Scotland’s exports. His shortlisting for the IChemE Innovation award is richly deserved as his pioneering approach to converting distillery byproducts into biobutanol is a real technology breakthrough developed right here in Scotland”.


Notes to Editors

• The IChemE 2012 Awards will be presented at an awards dinner at the Mercure Piccadilly Hotel, in Manchester on November 1.
• The best overall shortlisted entry will be presented with the top prize of the awards programme, the Outstanding Achievement in Chemical Engineering Award (sponsored by BP).
• Other shortlisted candidates in the Innovator of the Year Category include (Neal) Tai Shung Chung from the National University of Singapore; Marek W. Urban of the University of Southern Mississippi; John Zhu from the University of Queensland; Richard J. Spontak from North Carolina State University; Grant Johnson of Costain Energy & Process; and John Edwards of Huntsman Pigments.
• Professor Tangney studied microbiology at University College Cork and later graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a masters in genetics.
• He also worked with Novozymes as a PhD researcher in Denmark and Finland before he progressed to become a Professor at Edinburgh Napier University where, in 2007, he founded the Biofuel Research Centre, the first of its kind in the UK.
• At present some 97% of Tullibardine’s whisky by-products are disposed of after production. They include draff – the sugar rich kernels of barley which are soaked in water to facilitate the fermentation process – and pot ale, the yeasty liquid that is heated during distillation.
• A bacterial fermentation process known as Acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) produces acetone, n-Butanol, and ethanol from starch.
• The production of butanol by biological means was first performed by Louis Pasteur in 1861.