Southern Oil Refining, based in Wagga Wagga, has announced plans to construct a pilot plant for the production of advanced biofuels. The $16 million plant, called the Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant, will be built in Gladstone, Queensland.

The pilot plant will use bagasse from sugar production and prickly acacia (a noxious weed) as its feedstock.

If the pilot plant is successful, the company plans to expand it into a $150 million commercial-scale refinery that would produce 200 million litres of advanced biofuel, suitable for military, marine and aviation use, a year by 2020.

The company also plans to develop a network of about a dozen “feeder plants” around Queensland. These would source feedstock from a variety of sources – almost any material with a recoverable biological component, such as weeds, wood waste, old tyres, plastics and wood from demolition sites, waste from humans and animals or agricultural waste, could be used.

Each feeder plant is expected to cost of about $30 to $40 million and employ about a dozen people.