Gladstone biorefinery pilot plant gets the go-ahead

A Gladstone pilot biorefinery that will be the trial site for jet fuel and diesel production from agricultural and forestry waste is set to go ahead.

US company Mercurius has commenced detailed design of the pilot biorefinery and will begin construction in months.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state government had been at the forefront of developing a bio-industry in Queensland.

“I met with Mercurius during a trade mission to the US in 2017 and they made it clear they recognised Queensland was committed to developing a biofuels industry,” she said.

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Mercurius has developed cutting-edge, patented biotechnology to produce cost-effective drop-in biofuels and bio-chemicals from non-food feedstocks like sugarcane waste – all without directly producing a CO2 by-product. The Mercurius pilot biorefinery will be co-located on the Northern Oil Refinery at Yarwun, with construction scheduled to conclude in late 2019.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said Mercurius’ world-leading biotechnology will bring Queensland a step closer to achieving a $1 billion biofutures industry by 2026.

“The planned biorefinery pilot represents a huge vote of confidence in the biofutures credentials of Queensland, particularly in the Gladstone region,” Mr Dick said.

“During its three-month operational period, the pilot biorefinery will provide work for around 30 people.

“Once the pilot is successfully delivered, Mercurius then plans to build a larger demonstration plant, which would scale up production of biofuels and bio-chemicals.

“The demonstration biorefinery would target production of four tonnes of renewable diesel and jet fuel daily and could attract a combined investment value of $11 million and create an estimated 50 jobs.”

“As stated in the KPMG bioenergy state of the nation assessment, commissioned by Bioenergy Australia, Queensland in leading the nation when it comes to the development of the bioenergy industry,” he said.

“We’re strongly placed to capitalise on our existing agricultural and manufacturing base and supporting infrastructure, and this is allowing us to take a lead role in the production of renewable fuels.”

The pilot is supported through the Palaszczuk Government’s $150 million Jobs and Regional Growth Fund, which helps to facilitate private sector projects that create regional employment and economic growth opportunities.

Through the state’s Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships program, QUT also secured $300,000 over three years to fund research on Mercurius’ biotechnology at the pilot plant.

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said Mercurius chose Queensland to develop and commercialise its technology due to the state’s willingness to support innovative projects.

“Over the longer term, based on the performance of the pilot and demonstration plants, the company plans to establish up to five commercial scale biorefineries across regional Queensland,” Mr Butcher said.

Mercurius Managing Director Michael Vevera said the company continues to see the strong potential of regional Queensland as a leading global biorefinery location.

“Queensland is an ideal destination to further develop our patented REACH biotechnology,” Mr Vevera said.

“This is due to the abundance of feedstocks, coupled with the Queensland Government’s continued commitment to build a strong biofutures industry.”

Mercurius President and CEO Karl Seck said the company was attracted to Queensland by the Queensland Government’s Biofutures Acceleration Program in 2017.

You can read more about innovation and bioenergy in Queensland by clicking here.

 

Consortium to harness value from agricultural waste

A new $10.9 million research consortium is set to increase the value of agricultural waste by turning it into new products, led by the University of Adelaide.

A total of 18 partners will come together to develop high-value products from agricultural waste, including nine South Australian based companies from the agriculture and food sector alongside nine national and international academic institutions and industry partners.

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The Agricultural Product Development Research Consortium has been granted $4 million over four years by the South Australian Government, with the University of Adelaide contributing $2.3 million, with the remaining support coming from partners.

Biomolecules that can be derived from crop waste show potential anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer or gut health properties. Other uses include providing mechanical strength or texturizing properties in food, structural materials, lubricants and cosmetics.

Waste from apples, cherries and mushrooms could be used in skin care products thanks to their biological makeup while waste from broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts or cabbage could have potential benefits for diabetic patients.

Research Consortium Lead Investigator and Director of Adelaide Glycomics Professor Vincent Bulone said Agriculture is a key contributor to SA’s economy which has a potential to generate high value products and create post-farm gate industries.

“Our agricultural and horticultural industries generate abundant waste biomass, which is currently disposed of at a cost to the producer, or only a low return. But there are compounds we can derive from this waste – a range of different ‘biomolecules’ – that have high-value potential applications for their structural or health properties,” he said.

Some consortium partners include CSIRO, University of South Australia, KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), Coopers Brewery, Carlsberg Group (Denmark), Raw Nation Wholefoods, Vanquish Technologies and Ingredion Inc (USA).

SA Minister for Industry and Skills David Pisoni said South Australia’s agricultural sector is a significant contributor to the growth of the state’s economy.

“The outcomes from this major research consortia that includes local, national and international research institutions along with industry partners, will contribute to the creation of new post-farmgate industries through the development and commercialisation of value-added products from agricultural waste,” he said.

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