Celtic Renewables, said to be the world’s first company to produce biofuel capable of powering cars from residues of the whisky industry, has received £500,000 in a new round of investment.
The latest cash injection takes the Edinburgh company’s valuation to £10million.
Celtic announced investment worth £250,000 from the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise (SE) and a further £250,000 equity stake acquired by an existing private investor.
The funding boost was revealed at a reception in Edinburgh by Martin Tangney, the Napier University-based firm’s founder and president, and SE operations managing director Paul Lewis.
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 Celtic scientists.
The company, a pioneer in an industry it estimates could be worth £100million to the UK economy, hopes to build its first demonstration facility at the Grangemouth petrochemical plant by 2018.
Professor Tangney said: “This demonstration of faith by the Scottish Investment Bank and our private investor takes Celtic Renewables to a new level and brings our share value to £10million
“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: “I am pleased that the Scottish Investment Bank has given support to Celtic Renewables, a company who are producing such an exciting and innovative product.
“This helps ensure a future where we see less emissions from fossil fuel driven cars and instead have reduced emissions from vehicles powered from the by-products of Scotland’s world-renowned and successful whisky industry.”
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 have 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 £900million by 2025 and will, ultimately, enable the country to take a significant role in the world’s industrial biotechnology sector.”
Celtic Renewables, in partnership with the Ghent-based Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant 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 its raw material.
The biofuel is produced from draff – the sugar rich kernels of barley that 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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