In Technology

Queensland Minister for Science Ros Bates

Mackay Bio-Aviation Fuel Facility One Step Closer

Victor P Taffa

The possibility of aircraft taking off on bio-fuel made from Queensland sugarcane moved a step closer today with the announcement of key Queensland Government funding for the project.

Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, Ros Bates said Queensland Sustainable Aviation Fuels Initiative will develop a business case for commercial sugarcane to bio-aviation fuel refinery in Mackay.

“We’ve been cutting our teeth on biofuel research and development in Queensland for a while now.” Ms. Bates said.

“Our scientists have made some remarkable progress on sourcing alternative fuels from sugar and other natural products.”

Queensland Sustainable Aviation Field Initiative is led by Professor Lars Nielsen from the University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).

$300,000 will go to developing the business case, which could lead to private industry backing for a manufacturing facility in Mackay.

Ms. Bates said private industry including Mackay Sugar had also tipped in to co-fund the initiative.

The business case would investigate issues such as site requirements and scale of production on behalf of potential investors. It would assess whether diversifying and adding new products such as advanced bio-fuels would make economic sense for the sugarcane industry.

If successful, the next stage would be a detailed feasibility study and engineering design.

Ms. Bates said a commercially successful bio-aviation fuel plant would not only mean new jobs for the region during the construction phase, but also skilled jobs to operate any future plant.

“The project has even caught the eye of the US Navy. Earlier this year, a US Navy delegation visited the AIBN to see what progress Queensland scientists were making on advanced biofuels.” Ms. Bates said.

The US Navy is trialling biofuels in aircraft and ships with plans to power half its fleet from alternative fuels.

“A lot of what we are doing is still at the early stage of development. Now we’re looking to take what we learn down the commercialisation path.” Ms. Bates said.

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