A new international biofuel alliance plans to turn Australian mallee eucalypts into a sustainable jet fuel while producing biochar as a byproduct.
The alliance, which includes Virgin Australia, the Renewable Oil Corporation, Dynamotive Australia and the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre, believes that the project could potentially replace over $2 billion in fuel imports.
More than a thousand farmers, mainly in the Western Australian wheatbelt, already plant mallees on their farms to lower water tables, prevent salination, reduce erosion and provide wildlife habitat. Two years ago, Origin Energy began planting six million mallee trees in what is believed to be the largest carbon-pollution biosequestion project in Australia. (See www.aussierenewables.com.au/news/).
The alliance plans to use innovative fast pyrolysis technology, developed by the Canadian company Dynamotive Energy Systems, to process the mallees into oil. As well as extracting oil for fuel, Dynamotive’s plants produce biochar, used for soil improvement and carbon sequestration, as a by-product.
A demonstration unit is to be operational in 2012. A commercial-scale plant could be operational as early as 2014.