Australia’s first biofuels pilot plant has been officially opened by the Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, at Gladstone.

The $18 million Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant is a joint venture between Southern Oil and J.J. Richards & Sons, on the site of their Northern Oil Refinery.

The pilot plant will trial using a wide range of “waste” products to covert into renewable fuel. The first product to be trialed will be used mining and passenger tyres. Other waste streams to be tested include plastics, wood waste, Prickly Acacia, sugar cane trash and bagasse, urban and a variety of agricultural green waste including macadamia shells.

Over the next three years, this pilot plant aims to produce one million litres of fuel for use in field trials by the US navy as part of its Great Green Fleet initiative, by the Australian Defence Force for the navy, by Australian heavy road transport operators, and for the Australian agricultural and aviation sectors.

If the pilot is successful, the oint venture plans to develop a $150 million, commercial-scale biofuels plant that will produce in excess of 200 million litres of advanced biofuel annually.