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US$12M advanced biofuel pilot plant for Queensland, Australia

The Queensland, Australia government announced that a A$16-million (US$12-million) advanced biofuels pilot plant will be built at Southern Oil Refining’s Yarwun plant at Gladstone. If successful, the pilot plant will be expanded to a large commercial-scale refinery costing $150 million and producing 200 million liters (53 million gallons US) of advanced biofuel annually, suitable for military, marine and aviation use.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it would be Australia’s first commercial-scale advanced biofuels production facility.

The pilot plant is expected to be operational by later this year and within the next three years aims to have produced one million liters (264,000 gallons US) of fuel for use in field trials by the US Navy as part of its Great Green Fleet initiative, and also by the Australian Navy.

Last week, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia announced they had formed a partnership to investigate options for locally-produced aviation biofuel.

This announcement, along with the three per cent biofuel mandate that applies from next January, illustrates how biofuels are going to figure more prominently in the fuel supply chains of the future. It also emphasizes the importance to Queensland of this biofuels pilot plant project and plans for a subsequent full-scale commercial plant.

—Biofuels Minister Mark Bailey

Southern Oil Refining currently operates a waste lube oil re-refining plant at Yarwun in the Gladstone State Development Area as a joint venture with JJ Richards & Sons.

The $70-million plant is the only waste lube oil re-refining facility in Queensland, and has the potential to process all of the State’s 100 million liters annually of waste lube oil.

The advanced biofuels pilot plant will be co-located with the Yarwun re-refining facility.

The plant will use biomass material such as sugarcane bagasse and possibly prickly acacia as feedstock for the production of bio crude oil, which will then be distilled into salable kerosene and diesel products.

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