Sunday 29th Mar, 2020

Sugar cane and wood waste to be turned into aviation fuel

Katter's Australian Party member Shane Knuth is pushing for re-regulation of the Queensland sugar sector. Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

A Queensland research project could see the state’s sugar cane waste and wood waste transformed into sustainable aviation fuel.

The Queensland Government has invested $159,000 out of its $5 million Waste to Biofutures (W2B) Fund to support the project, being undertaken by Gevo Inc, a producer of low-carbon renewable fuels.

The company will partner with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to see if sugar cane and wood waste can be turned into fuel.

State Development Minister Cameron Dick said Gevo has previously supplied the renewable fuel used in Virgin Australia’s trial of sustainable aviation fuel at Brisbane Airport in June 2019.

“Sustainable aviation fuel provides an alternative to fossil-based jet fuel and offers environmental benefits by reducing the carbon footprint of plane travel,” he said.

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“This project will also help position Queensland as a world-leading location for investment in the manufacture and distribution of this fuel in the global bioproducts and services market.”

Dick said Gevo’s participation in the successful sustainable aviation fuel trial at the Brisbane Airport led to the company considering Queensland as the location for its first biorefinery outside of the United States.

“These ongoing partnerships have the potential to bring even more business to Queensland, as demand for biofuels grows,” he said.

“Having the ability to turn our agriculture waste into sustainable fuel means more jobs in agriculture and biofutures across our regions.”

Gevo Chief Executive Officer Patrick Gruber said Queensland is rich in renewable biomass resources and has expressed the desire to invest in the future of biofuels.

“This opportunity opens the door for the development of a project that supplies low carbon gasoline to not only Queensland, but also the possibility to supply commercial quantities of 2G sustainable aviation fuel to the Brisbane Airport,” Gruber said.

“This would expand upon our demonstrations of sustainable aviation fuel supply to commercial airlines, like those conducted with Virgin Australia.”

QUT project lead Professor Robert Speight said the university was excited to be working with Gevo in assessing opportunities for developing biorefineries in Queensland.

“This project is an opportunity to further leverage QUT’s expertise in scaling and commercialising industrial bioprocesses,” Speight said.

“With our state’s large sugar resources, strong innovation, environment and growing demand for renewable products like sustainable fuels, Queensland is well placed for the commercial development of these industries.”