From trash to treasure: new bio-refineries research project to drive positive outcomes across industries

Date Posted

6 May, 2015

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Primary producers and agricultural value chains are expected to benefit from a new research project announced today as part of the Rural Research and Development for Profit Programme, according to Sugar Research Australia CEO, Neil Fisher.

Mr Fisher said that SRA was successful in securing funding for the new collaborative project that would engage leading scientists to develop technology that would convert agricultural and forestry by-products into higher value commodities.

The new project was announced by the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, as he confirmed the successful projects in round one of the new Research and Development for Profit Programme.

“SRA welcomes the commitment from Minister Joyce and the Federal Government for their continued investment in rural R&D and in SRA in particular,” Mr Fisher said.

“This is an exciting and collaborative project that will see SRA as the lead agency working with Forest and Wood Products Australia Limited, the Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Australia Pork Limited, and the Queensland University of Technology.

“The project also has support from NSW Department of Primary Industries as well as industry support from Southern Oil Refining and AgriFuels Ltd.
“We know that in many agricultural and forestry production systems, there is significant biomass created in the production system that is of low value compared to the core commodity being produced,” Mr Fisher said. “This project will look at how we can add value to products such as cane mulch, cotton stalks and trash material, and forestry by-product.

“The project will investigate using biorefinery methods to convert low value material into higher value products such as animal feed, fuels, fibre, and chemicals.

“For example, benefits for the project could include primary producers being able to reduce their production costs by being able to produce their own bio-fuel, while intensive animal producers could benefit from lower cost feed.

“There is constant pressure on the Australian agricultural system from increasing costs and the drive for greater efficiency. Projects such as this have the potential to set a positive path for the future of crucial primary production industries.”

“If this technology became widely adopted, it would stand to create significant benefits for agricultural industries and regional communities and economies. A Deloitte Access Economics and Corelli Consulting study in 2014 indicated that the establishment of rural and regional biorefineries could generate over $21.5 billion in revenue over the next 20 years and create 6640 new full-time jobs.”

The project will run over three years and is being funded with $3.09 million in Federal Government grant funds and a matching commitment from the partner organisations.

Media contact: SRA Brad Pfeffer 0419 175 815.

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