Pilot plant pushes forward economic research on sugarcane waste to biofuels

February 17, 2019 |

In Australia, QUT researchers and Mercurius Australia have commenced work on a pilot plant to prove the economic viability of turning sugarcane waste into either biojet and biodiesel fuel or biochemicals. Their patented REACH technology, developed by U.S. parent company Mercurius Biorefining, has the potential to convert sugarcane bagasse and other biomass into cost effective drop-in biofuels and bio-chemicals, as alternatives to fossil fuels.

Dr Darryn Rackemann, Senior Research Fellow from QUT’s Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities (CTCB), said, “The science has been proven,” Dr Rackemann, “The engineering now is trying to prove the economics. And once the economics are proven, we can roll out the technology further.”

During its three-month operational period, the pilot biorefinery will provide work for around 30 people. Once the pilot is successfully delivered, Mercurius then plans to build a larger demonstration plant, which would scale up production of biofuels and bio-chemicals.

Dr Rackemann said the pilot plant would have a flexible technology base that would allow targeting production of renewable fuels and green chemicals.

He said the work by QUT researchers proved the system worked in producing grams of chemical and fuel samples, while the pilot plant this year would be able to demonstrate the viability of manufacturing kilograms of chemical and fuel samples.

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Category: Research

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