The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has announced that it will contribute up to $500,000 towards a $1.2 million study by Boral Timber to investigate the feasibility of building a “second-generation” biofuel refinery using the waste sawmill residues from the Boral Timber Hardwood Sawmill at Herons Creek near Port Macquarie on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales.

The study will consider the feasibility of using an innovative mechanical catalytic conversion technology, developed by Spanish-based Global Ecofuel Solutions SL, combined with the potential for establishing the biorefinery at Herons Creek.

If the study is successful, the proposed biorefinery, which would cost an estimated $50 million to build, will be the first time the process is be used in a production scale facility. It could convert up to 50,000 tonnes of waste sawmill residue produced each year into transport-grade renewable diesel and bitumen.

The sawmill residue, which includes sawdust, remnant woodchips, shavings and offcuts, is currently used for lower value uses such as landscaping and boiler fuel.