A project to study the feasibility and design for Australia’s proposed first commercial-scale “biorefinery”, capable of producing renewable diesel and jet fuels from plant material, has commenced with funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

ARENA is providing $2.4 million of the required $5.3 million for Southern Oil Refining to develop and construct a state of the art biocrude and biofuel laboratory in Yarwun, near Gladstone in Queensland.

ARENA’s CEO, Ivor Frischknecht, said that “Our agricultural industries have an abundance of plant waste that can be ideal biocrude feedstock and there are several potential markets for selling green fuels including aviation, shipping and defence. ARENA has previously supported Australian companies like Muradel and Licella to develop   innovative technologies for producing biocrude but there is currently no way of refining this into large quantities of useable biofuels.”

Southern Oil Refining has struck in-principle agreements with Muradel and Licella for the supply of biocrude for refining.

The United States Navy has a 50% target for alternative energy sources by 2020 and the Royal Australian Navy has signed an agreement to explore using more environmentally friendly fuels. Major Australian airlines are also considering these fuels to meet industry-agreed emission reduction targets, with Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia recently announcing a partnership to investigate options for locally-produced aviation biofuel.

The project is scheduled for completion in March 2019.