Raising a Glass to Alternative Fuels: Europe's Latest in Fuel Innovation

If you keep an eye on the news, Europe often seems to be on top of alternative energy and alternative transportation innovation. While that seems to be as much because many of the nations in Europe are committed to bringing about the change, some have said it is because they have so much that needs to be changed in the first place. Either way, two new concepts coming out of Europe in alternative transportation fuels seem to go above and beyond the normal research to bring some pretty interesting and, in one case, rather unique technology.

One of the more unique alternative transportation solutions is coming out of Scotland in the form of a new biofuel. Researchers at the Edinburgh Napier University, in Scotland, have spent the last several years developing a new biofuel that is derived from the byproducts of whiskey production. The two byproducts specifically being used are called pot ale, which is leftover liquid found in the copper stills, and draff. The draff, the name for the grains leftover from the process of distilling whiskey, is used in combination with the pot ale to create a form of butanol that can then be used to power a vehicle. The researchers responsible for the creation of this fuel are hoping that they can find a company willing to distribute it so that it can be initially used as a mix with diesel or gasoline. The fuel has been seen as particularly promising because it utilizes byproducts from an already in use source and would be backed by one of Scotland’s largest and most prosperous industries.

Another of Europe’s latest alternative transportation developments is coming in the form of a more familiar fuel source: hydrogen. Recently, Volkswagen has begun testing a new model of the Jetta called the Volkswagen Bora HY.POWER, which is utilizing hydrogen fuel cells as the primary propulsion. Volkswagen has said that the HY.POWER uses a more unique form of hydrogen fuel cell because of a new form of membrane that is used within the cell and the fact that it has been designed for the highest performance possible. The car was recently tested on a roadway between Switzerland and Italy in winter conditions in order to determine how well the hydrogen powered car would operate in below freezing temperatures. Considering the fact that many automobile makers have abandoned hydrogen due to its cost (while others like Honda remain adamant that hydrogen will be the fuel of the future) it is nice to see that Volkswagen is willing to take a chance on using the technology.

It will still be some time until either the whiskey based biofuel or Volkswagen’s Bora HY.POWER will see any wide scale use or major production, but it is great seeing new alternative transportation technology that breaks away from electric vehicles every now and again. It is also an excellent contribution overall to the movement to do away with fossil fuel based transportation, especially considering that fossil fuel cars have been fingered by many organizations as one of the top carbon emissions producers in the entire world. Until either technology can be proven, all that is left now is to wait and see and, perhaps, to raise a glass to their future success.

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