Good use of cane waste

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS -

THE Queens­land Gov­ern­ment is funding next-gen­er­a­tion re­search to turn sug­ar­cane waste into liq­uid fu­els and chem­i­cals – trans­form­ing Queens­land’s agri­cul­tural in­dus­try.

Speak­ing from QUT’s Mackay Re­new­able Bio­com­modi­ties Pilot Plant, Min­is­ter for In­no­va­tion, Sci­ence and the Dig­i­tal Econ­omy Leeanne Enoch said Ad­vance Queens­land Re­search Fel­low Dr Kameron Dunn will re­ceive $180,000 over three years.

“The Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to build­ing a bio­com­modi­ties in­dus­try in Queens­land,” Ms Enoch said.

“Our vi­sion is for a $1 bil­lion sus­tain­able and ex­port-ori­en­tated in­dus­trial biotech­nol­ogy and bio­prod­ucts sec­tor – one that at­tracts sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment, and cre­ates re­gional, high-value and knowl­edge-in­ten­sive jobs.

Ms Enoch said the bio-re­fin­ing sec­tor is emerg­ing world­wide as a ma­jor in­dus­try.

“Queens­land has the po­ten­tial to be­come a lead­ing global pro­ducer of bio­prod­ucts and tech­nowaste-oil lo­gies, cre­at­ing new mar­kets for both tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ers and agri­cul­tural pro­duc­ers, as well as pro­vid­ing sig­nif­i­cant re­gional devel­op­ment prospects for the state,” she said.

The Gov­ern­ment funding to Dr Dunn will be matched by Queens­land Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy (QUT) and in­dus­try part­ners in­clud­ing NilWaste En­ergy, Queens­land Urban Util­i­ties and South­ern Oil, which re­cently launched the $16 mil­lion North­ern Oil Ad­vanced Bio­fu­els Pilot Plant in Glad­stone. The project part­ners op­er­ate in biomass, solid waste, sewage treat­ment and re­fin­ing in­dus­tries.

Dr Dunn, from QUT’s Cen­tre of Trop­i­cal Crops and Bio­com­modi­ties, said his re­search will in­crease the com­pet­i­tive­ness of Queens­land’s agri­cul­tural in­dus­tries by mov­ing into the pro­duc­tion of bio­fu­els and bio­chem­i­cals.

“Our sug­ar­cane in­dus­try needs to di­ver­sify and tap into other non-su­gar mar­kets to make the in­dus­try re­silient against in­creased com­pe­ti­tion and fluc­tu­at­ing world su­gar prices,” Dr Dunn said.

“Bio-re­finer­ies are ex­pected to gen­er­ate sig­nif­i­cant amounts of waste.

“If we can add value to these waste prod­ucts, then we can open up a whole new stream of rev­enue for these in­dus­tries.”

QUT’s Mackay Re­new­able Bio­com­modi­ties Pilot Plant sup­ports Dr Dunn’s re­search project through the pre-treat­ment of bagasse by pro­duc­ing sug­ar­cane lignin.

This lignin is then pro­cessed at a QUT pilot plant fa­cil­ity in Bris­bane.

Queens­land can be­come a lead­ing global pro­ducer of bio­prod­ucts and tech­nolo­gies, cre­at­ing new mar­kets for and agri­cul­tural pro­duc­ers

Min­is­ter Leeanne Enoch

Pic­ture: SHANE NI­CHOLS

Gov­ern­ment and sci­en­tists are ex­plor­ing ways to di­ver­sify the cane in­dus­try

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