Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has agreed to grant $2.4m funding to Southern Oil Refining (SOR) to support the development of biocrude and biofuel test laboratory in Queensland.


The A$5.3m laboratory will be built at the site of the Northern Oil advanced biofuels pilot plant in Yarwun, central Queensland.

The construction of the laboratory is scheduled to be completed in March 2019.

The lab will be used by the researchers to gather information about the feasibility and design of a proposed commercial-scale biorefinery in the country.

Arena CEO Ivor Frischknecht said: "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 defense."

The project aims to develop Australia’s first biorefinery capable of producing renewable diesel and jet fuels from plant material.

In addition to bridging the capability gap in the development of an Australian biofuels industry, the project will pave way for the establishment of new protocols for the conversion of biocrudes to drop-in fuels.

Frischknecht added: "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.

"The test laboratory ARENA is supporting will characterize biocrudes and biofuels and provide a blueprint for the refinery."

SOR has already signed deals with Muradel and Licella for the supply of biocrude for refining.

SOR earlier announced plans expand the A$16m ($12m) Northern Oil advanced biofuels pilot plant into a large commercial-scale refinery costing A$150m ($113m) and produce 200 million liters of advanced biofuel per year.

The plant will use biomass material such as sugarcane bagasse and possibly prickly acacia as feedstock to produce bio crude oil, which will be distilled into kerosene and diesel products.

Image: The new advanced biofuels pilot plant will produce renewable diesel and jet fuels from plant material. Photo: courtesy of J.J. Richards & Sons Pty Ltd.