Electric cars may receive most of the attention within the realm of alternative propulsion methods, but liquid hydrocarbon fuels will be with us for many decades to come.
The challenge then becomes how to reduce the carbon footprint of extracting, transporting, refining, and burning those fuels to reduce the damage they impose on the environment.
That leads to biofuels, and an amusing development from Scotland called biobutanol, though the public may know its ingredients by a different name: whiskey.
Celtic Renewables, a startup launched at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland, has worked to perfect the biobutanol production process; it says its first batch of fuel seems to show promise.
According to Vice, the fuel is derived from whiskey residue, which is a combination of draff, the barley residue left after fermentation, and pot ale, the liquid byproduct of the fermented wort after distillation.
Celtic Renewables has developed a new process to combine the liquid and solid byproducts to create biobutanol, which the company calls a "direct replacement, here and now, for petrol" (meaning gasoline).
At the fuel's first test, a car's tank was filled with biobutanol without any modifications—the Ford Focus used was a normal, gasoline-powered car—and it started up and ran on its own accord with a tank full of alcohol byproducts.
According to the company, Scotland now produces 2 billion liters (more than 500 million gallons) of pot ale and 500,000 tons of draff every year.
Using those byproducts to make biofuel has two distinct advantages.
It not only cuts back on waste, but the resulting fuel is estimated to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 85 percent against gasoline.
It's not the first time whiskey has been turned into something more, however.
Biobutanol was used to make explosives in the early 1900s during World War I, but production of the fuel ceased in the 1960s.
By then, gasoline had become abundant, and cheap, whereas biobutanol remained much more costly to produce.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and Scotland is taking Celtic Renewables discovery seriously.
The company has received an $11.6 million grant from the government to produce a demonstration plant and to expand its research into the fuels.
While electric cars may be all the rage, filling your future car with a relative of whiskey just sounds cooler.
[hat tip: Randall Hamlet]