$22 million in new biofutures projects set to start in QLD

Six new bio projects collectively valued at more than $22 million will soon be delivered in Queensland, with the first grants announced from the state government’s $5 million Queensland Waste to Biofutures Fund (W2B Fund).

The Waste to Biofutures Fund offers grants from $50,000 to $1 million to develop pilot, demonstration or commercial-scale projects that produce bio-based products instead of conventional fossil fuel-based products.

This includes utilising household food and green waste, tyres and plastics, recovered fats and oils from restaurants, and biosolids from sewerage treatment plants.

State Development Minister Cameron Dick said $1.9 million had been awarded to six businesses and universities innovating in the waste-to-bioproducts space.

“Queensland is leading the way when it comes to turning waste streams into high-value bioproducts with environmental benefits,” Mr Dick said.

“These six projects will create biogas, syngas and fertiliser replacements and energy to run industrial plants and charge electric vehicles, but most importantly they’ll create more jobs for Queenslanders.”

Bioenergy Australia CEO Shahana McKenzie said the W2B Fund is helping Queensland companies advance exciting projects.

“These projects have enormous potential to attract investment in the bioenergy sector and create jobs,” Ms McKenzie said.

“Bioenergy is attracting considerable interest worldwide due to its enormous potential to reduce carbon emissions and drive a more sustainable energy future.”

W2B Fund recipients:

BE Power Solutions ($500,000): Biogas-solar power plant at AJ Bush rendering facility Bromelton, Scenic Rim, providing power for the facility and the grid.

Wildfire Energy ($500,000): Waste-to-energy demonstration project in Redbank Plains, Ipswich, which will convert feedstocks into syngas, enabling the production of renewable electricity, hydrogen and chemicals.

Energy360 ($363,500): Bioenergy plant and electric vehicle (EV) charging station with future potential to power Bundaberg Regional Council waste-recovery trucks.

Nilwaste Energy ($250,000): Demonstration plant at QUT’s industrial testing facility in Banyo to convert waste into bioenergy.

Pearl Global ($250,000): Project at Staplyton on the Gold Coast producing bioenergy from waste gas.

University of Southern Queensland ($50,000): Toowoomba project to create granulated organomineral fertilisers from biosolids.

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Banana waste has biofutures potential

A small-scale biogas, organic waste to energy plant

Commercialising banana waste for sustainable organics manufacturing will be challenging, but the project has a lot of potential in Queensland, says Peter Hannan, the CEO of Growcom.

In an opinion piece published in the North Queensland Register, Mr Hannan explained that banana waste could play a key role in the biofutures industry, which focuses on the development and manufacturing of products from sustainable organic and/or waste resources, as opposed to fossil fuels.

He highlighted the Queensland Government’s allocation of $20 million in funding over three years for its sustainable biofutures industry plan.

Mr Hannan noted that Growcom, which represents the Queensland horticulture industry, had been involved in a project to produce and harvest methane gas from banana waste, which was funded by the Sustainable Industries Division of the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“Growcom’s project demonstrated the feasibility of constructing a low-cost on-farm anaerobic digester to convert banana waste to biogas. It also assessed the most productive use of the biogas fuel on-farm to power machinery and return power to the grid,” he wrote.

Mr Hannan wrote that the aim of biofutures was to utilise ‘waste steams’ as feedstocks in the future to generate a range of sustainable chemicals, fuels, synthetic rubber, cosmetics and textiles.

“While the most common potential feedstocks mentioned are sugar cane bagasse, sorghum stover, algae and recycled waste/used lube oil, Growcom hopes that other feedstocks such as banana waste from the horticulture industry will be utilised.

“More than 30 000 tonnes of bananas are grown in Australia each year, mainly in northern Queensland. About 20 per cent of the banana crop, some 60,000 tonnes a year, is damaged or bruised during harvesting and transport to packing sheds and cannot be sold.

“Damaged bananas and banana bunch stalks can be converted into a gaseous fuel by anaerobic digestion, a process in which bacteria break down carbohydrates in the absence of air, producing a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide. In fact, all plant material can be processed in this way.”

Mr Hannan wrote that the challenge going forward was to find an investor to undertake industrial design, enabling the system to be commercialised and made available to growers.