Whisky – Fuel for the Future


This month our Influencers Insights event was coordinated and hosted by The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), and had been designed to engage science teachers, Quality Improvement Officers and career advisors in this growing sector and offered them a chance to hear from local companies working in this space.

Based in Glasgow, IBioIC was launched in 2014 to bridge the gap between education and industry. With the full and strong support of seventeen Scottish Higher Education Institutions, and over 70 industrial companies ranging from start-ups to multi-national corporations signed up as fee paying members, IBioIC have created a single portal for industry to connect with Industrial Biotechnology (IB) in Scotland and the UK. Covering the four main sectors of IB – health; marine; white chemical biotechnology and agriculture the Centre was set up set up to accelerate the growth of the Industrial Biotechnology (IB) industry in Scotland, adding economic value and creating numerous skilled jobs.

Organised and chaired by Dr Susanne Boyle, (IBioIC Skills Manager), the Influencers Insight event included industry focussed presentations from Celtic Renewables, and Devro whilst Marti Anderson (Curriculum Manager, STEM Ayrshire College) provided an insight into the pathways and articulation routes associated with Industrial Biotechnology and engineering more generally.


So what is Industrial Biotechnology and who are Industrial Biotechnologists? Industrial biotechnology is an enabling technology that uses biological substances, systems and processes to produce materials, chemicals and energy. Industrial Biotechnologists include Chemists, Biologists, Engineers, Physicists, Mathematicians, Programmers and Informaticians, Entrepeneurs, Businesses and Designers.

The global dedication to finding more natural, greener solutions has soared and the appetite for biological solutions is higher than ever before Because of this, new technologies and processes are critical to extract chemicals and materials from natural matter.

Many of the consumer products made today, are made from Industrial Biotechnology, with many companies working across Scotland, the companies below provide a taster of what’s happening in the sector.

celtic renewables 2.jpg

Located in Edinburgh, Celtic Renewables Ltd’s strategy is to apply microbiology expertise and modern process technology to the Weizmann fermentation process to provide first class solutions for the production of next generation biofuel. The company is initially focussed on the £4 billion Scottish Malt Whisky industry as a ripe resource for developing biobutanol (transport fuel for the future).

The pioneering process combines the two main by-products of whisky production (Pot Ale and Draff) to produce high value renewable products, including biobutanol which when blended with gasoline can be used as a transportation fuel.

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Professor Martin Tangney, Founder & President, Celtic Renewables

For more information on this process, watch the video below or click here.


Devro are one of the world’s leading providers of collagen casings to the growing processed meats sector and provides technical support to food manufacturers. Employing over 2,000 staff across the world, the company includes 6 manufacturing sites in the Czech Republic, USA, Australia, China and nearby Motherwell right here in Scotland. Devro actively support a range of career paths from Process Operators, Process Technicians, Chemists and Engineers.

In addition to the Scottish companies, speaker sessions highlighted the diverse applications of IB including the initiatives of Impossible Foods, a Silicon Valley start-up on a mission to make the world a more eco-friendly place to live. Through the collective efforts of a fast-growing, multi-disciplinary team of scientists, engineers, chefs, farmers and foodies, they aim to make the global food system more sustainable.


According to livestock researchers, animal agriculture uses 30% of all land, over 25% of all freshwater on Earth, and creates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all of the world’s cars, trucks, trains, ships, and airplanes combined! So how much better for the environment is the Impossible Burger compared to the normal beef burger?

“Producing the Impossible Burger requires a quarter of the water used to produce the same burger from a cow, 1/20th of the land and 1/8th of the greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, switching from a conventional burger made from cows to a quarter-pound Impossible Burger saves as much water as a 10-minute shower. It eliminates the greenhouse gases emitted by driving 18 miles in an average car. And it liberates 75 square feet of land for wildlife.”

Impossible Foods.

In order to change these statistics the Impossible Foods team have studied the burger for over 5 years and have now created their own delicious tasting burger made entirely from plants!

“Because we use 0% cows, the Impossible Burger uses a fraction of the Earth’s natural resources. Compared to cows, the Impossible Burger uses 95% less land, 74% less water, and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s 100% free of hormones, antibiotics, and artificial ingredients.”

Impossible Foods.

So what type of plants are used to create this unique burger?

“Our burger is made from simple, all-natural ingredients such as wheat, coconut oil, and potatoes. What makes the Impossible Burger unlike all others is an ingredient called heme. Heme is a basic building block of life on Earth, including plants, but it’s uniquely abundant in meat. We discovered that heme is what makes meat smell, sizzle, bleed, and taste gloriously meaty. Consider it the “magic ingredient” that makes our burger a carnivore’s dream.”

Impossible Foods.

To watch the process of the Impossible Burger watch the video below or click here.

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