EDINBURGH biofuel firm Celtic Renewables is to help clean up the River Ganges in a deal with India’s Dross Energy.

The Napier University spin-off converts residues from whisky production into biobutanol, a sustainable fuel capable of powering vehicles.

It will take its process to the holy river as part of efforts to tackle pollution caused by the local brewing and distilling trades. The waterway, sacred to Hindus and a pilgrimage destination, is said to be the sixth most polluted in the world.

A memorandum of understanding was signed at an Indian government-led event in New Delhi, where a biofuel-powered car was demonstrated to water resources minister Nintin Gadkari.

Professor Martin Tangney, founder of Celtic Renewables, said: “The technology developed by Celtic Renewables is a game-changer for the Indian brewing and distilling industry that has been widely criticised for dumping residue from the distilling process into the Ganges, a source of drinking water for over 400 million people.

“The Indian government has committed several billion pounds to pollution reduction and river rejuvenation through its dedicated arm The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and I am proud our company will be part of the solution.”

India’s brewing and distilling trades are worth around $35 billion per year.

Dross Energy added: “We are hugely excited to be the company to bring this ground-breaking technology to India.

“The technology is innovative and exciting and we want to be the second country in the world, behind Scotland, to commercialise the process for the benefit of the environment.”

Cherise Mascarenhas, head of Scottish Development International (SDI) in India, commented: “Scotland is world famous for its whisky, clean water and innovation.

“This latest partnership will see that combination exported to deliver significant environmental impact in India and, at the same time, see Celtic Renewables drive forward its international business growth ambition.”