Queensland sets sights on growing sugarcane biorefineries

Published Tuesday, 20 February, 2018 at 01:29 PM

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning
The Honourable Cameron Dick

Renewable jet fuel and diesel made from sugarcane waste could be manufactured across regional Queensland under a project by US company Mercurius and supported by the Palaszczuk Government.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick joined Mercurius CEO Karl Seck at Brisbane’s QUT Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities today to view the results of the latest scientific testing of the company’s cutting-edge patented biotechnology.

“This project is another step towards achieving Queensland’s vision for a $1 billion sustainable, export-oriented biotechnology and bioproducts sector,” Mr Dick said.

“Initially, Mercurius plans to build a pilot plant to test different elements of the bio-manufacturing process across Gladstone and Mackay, and then a larger demonstration plant at Gladstone.

“Over the longer term, based on performance of the pilot and demonstration projects, the company then plans to seek out further Queensland regional locations to build up to five commercial scale biorefineries.

“Not only are the combined biorefinery pilot and demonstration plants slated to initially produce 4.5 tonnes of renewable diesel and jet fuel annually at demonstration plant stage, these projects are also expected to attract an investment value of $11 million and around 50 jobs.

“This is fantastic news for Queensland’s sugarcane regions because we know this means high-value job creation and investment opportunities, as well as increasing our state’s growing reputation globally as an ideal location to build a biorefinery.”

Mr Dick said the Palaszczuk Government attracted Mercurius to Queensland through the Biofutures Acceleration Program Expression of Interest, which concluded last year.

“The Palaszczuk Government is leading Australia’s biofutures revolution through the Advance Queensland Biofutures 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan and through supporting companies like Mercurius to choose Queensland,” he said.

Mercurius CEO Karl Seck underlined the company’s intention to use regional Queensland as its bio-manufacturing hub during a visit to QUT in Brisbane today.

“Mercurius Biorefining has developed patented technology called REACH, which aims to significantly reduce the cost of manufacturing renewable diesel and jet fuel and other bio products,” Mr Seck said.

“We selected Queensla+nd after a global search of potential locations as an excellent location to build a biorefinery, due to its favourable business climate, extensive agricultural industry and world-class universities.

“Although validation processes are not yet concluded, results to date are positive and in line with expectations.”

Director of QUT’s Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities, Professor Sagadevan Mundree said the project brings to fruition the long-standing collaboration between QUT and Mercurius which has been developed over the past five to six years.

“Mercurius’ transformative REACH™ technology can be applied to any type of biomass such as agricultural residues, which Queensland has in abundant supply”, Professor Sagadevan Mundree said.

“The patented technology is simple and efficient and can utilise equipment from existing industries, which can result in relatively low capital and operating costs.”

“QUT is excited about the Queensland Government funding for this proof of concept, that will advance the commercial reality of producing renewable fuels and chemicals and lead to increased jobs and opportunities for regional communities.”

Mr Dick said the Palaszczuk Government’s funding was supporting Mercurius undertaking a scientific validation program and feasibility study with respect to its patented REACH™ technology, via the Biofutures Acceleration Program.


Media contact: Anika Hume 0447 320 039