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February 18, 2018

Forget petrol! Vehicles could run on renewable fuel made from beer by 2022

Petrol-heads could soon be replaced with beer-heads as research has found that ethanol from lager can be used to power cars.
Petrol-heads could soon be replaced with beer-heads as research has found that ethanol from lager can be used to power cars.

Scientists have managed to create fuel from beer in a move that could end our reliance on petrol. 

Chemists at the University of Bristol achieved the feat by converting widely-available ethanol found in beer into butanol.

They say it won't be long before we see cars running on new type of fuel, with experts predicting it could be the main fuel source for transportation by 2022.

Ethanol - the main ingredient in alcoholic drinks - is already used as an alternative to petrol around the world.

Although used, ethanol is not an ideal replacement as it has a lower energy density and can be fairly corrosive to engines.

Scientists have found a new way for ethanol from drinks - particularly beer - to be used to create a renewable fuel source.

Chemists have been able to convert ethanol to butanol in laboratory conditions with pure, dry ethanol.

Butanol is very similar to ethanol, but is is a much better fuel source.

Speaking MailOnline, Professor Duncan Wass, lead author of the study, said: 'One of the great benefits of using butanol as a fuel is that it can be used with current petrol cars with no or very little modification. This is a drop-in replacement for current petrol.  

'Ethanol would be converted to butanol in a large plant very much like the current petrochemical/refining industry, and then butanol would be put in the car by the consumer.'

The method developed turns ethanol into butanol using a catalyst, a chemical which speeds up a reaction. 

Currently, the process is capable of producing a few hundred grams of butanol from beer - as Professor Wass points out, 'not enough to fill a car's tank just yet!' 

 But the researchers say scaling up could take just five years if everything goes well, as it is still 'very much at the laboratory scale.'

Professor Wass added: 'At the minute, fermentation of wheat is the primary source in the UK - hence similarity of beer! In the US it's corn.'

Although beer can be used to make the fuel, the scientists have no plans of going head to head with the beverage industry.   

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