Is Rum Barbados’ Newest Green Energy?


Above: the Mount Gay Distillery in Barbados

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Like most industries, Barbados’ rum sector is facing rising energy costs — but one Barbadian minister has a solution.

By using vinasse, which is the material output from the manufacture of rum and ethanol, the country could produce biogas — something which could be used for everything from generating heat and electricity for the manufacturing process to creating bio fertiliser to improve crop yields.

That’s the proposal from Dr David Eastwick, Barbados’ Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management.

“The production of biogas from vinasse and the use of biogas to generate heat and electricity for [the rum] manufacturing process should be examined,” said Eastwick, who was speaking to a recent Rum Expansion Programme produced by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation.

Another benefit of using vinasse to produce energy and fertiliser would be the reduction of the typical negative impact the current method of vinasse disposal has on the environment, he said.

The Minister also called on rum manufacturers to explore the possibility of producing ethanol for fuel use. The ethanol could replace the Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether which is currently used in gasoline as an oxygenate additive.

“The production of local ethanol for use in a 10 percent gasoline fuel blend would eliminate the potential negative impact of MTBE while saving foreign exchange for the country and diversifying the revenue stream of the rum industry, utilising skill sets and resources already present in the rum industry, he said.


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