A $5 million biofuel project has been launched as part of the Australian Biofuels Research Institute (ABRI), to which the Federal Government has committed $20 million.


The macroalgal biofuels and bioproducts project will provide the research, development and demonstration of macroalgal biofuels, which include biocrude production for fuel conversion.


JCU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sandra Harding said the project’s co-products include fertiliser, animal feed, human food and nutraceuticals, and it will also provide cost-effective reductions of CO2 emissions from major carbon emitters in Australia.


“This funding reflects the Government’s support for the potential of advanced biofuels to increase Australia’s energy security and diversify sources of liquid fuel supply,” Professor Harding said.


“The institute’s work is designed to support the delivery of advanced biofuel technology for Australia.”


Professor Harding said the project would be the first in Australia to demonstrate the use of freshwater and marine macroalgae (large multicellular algae including seaweed) for biofuel development.


In addition, the Advanced Manufacturing CRC Ltd (AMCRC) last week announced it had signed a separate agreement with JCU and MBD Energy Ltd (MBD) for the ‘Macroalgal Biofuels and Bioproducts –High Energy Algal Fuels’ project, worth $6 million.


“The project is about the innovative and effective use of macroalgal biomass optimised for the generation of high energy biocrude that can form a future base for the production of fuels for use in the aviation, mining and marine industries,” said Bruce Grey, Managing Director of AMCRC.


While the $5 million ABRI funding was announced in May last year, the detailed project had yet to be developed.


Leaders for both projects are JCU’s Professor Rocky de Nys and Dr Nicholas Paul.


In addition, the Federal Government has opened the new $15 million Advanced Biofuels Investment Readiness (ABIR) Program for applications. 


“Advanced biofuels have the potential to play a role in diversifying our liquid fuel sources while reducing carbon emissions,” Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP said.
“Advanced biofuels—particularly those that can integrate into existing liquid fuel supply chains and are compatible with existing engine technologies and infrastructure—could also become a significant source of regional employment.


The $15 million Advanced Biofuels Investment Readiness Program is designed to support the investment case of scalable, pre-commercial advanced biofuels demonstration projects in Australia.  The program is open for applications until 30 April 2012. 
“This new Biofuels Program builds on the Governments existing support for biofuels through the Second Generation Biofuels Program to take the next step towards establishing a commercial advanced biofuels industry in Australia," Minister Ferguson said.


Energy Minister Martin Ferguson launched the project, following the signing of an official agreement between the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (DRET) and JCU earlier this month for the ‘High Energy Algal Fuels’ foundation project.