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Renewable diesel hits critical milestone in Australian first trial

In what’s being described as the first trial of its kind in Australia, a Scania test engine is operating solely on 100 per cent renewable diesel fuel made from waste plastic, old vehicle tyres, agriculture and forestry waste, and biosolids.

Southern Oil’s Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant at Yarwun, near Gladstone, is pioneering the refining of renewable diesel fuel with the aid of the Palaszczuk Government’s Advance Queensland Industry Attraction Fund.

The high-end Scania V8 test engine is being used in a power generation role for the testing, which includes assessment of exhaust emissions, performance and response, fuel efficiency, cost and engine lifetime.

According to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, renewable diesel is a much greener alternative to mineral diesel.

“Our government is committed to creating a sustainable, export-oriented biofutures industry in Queensland,” said Palaszczuk.

“Southern Oil is aiming to build a commercial-scale renewable fuel refinery within five years, which would create significant job opportunities and improve domestic fuel security for our state. A state-based renewable fuels industry would underpin Queensland's domestic fuel security for decades to come.”

Palaszczuk said the trial was a critical milestone for the development of the renewable fuel industry in Queensland. Over the next 12 to 18 months, according to the premier, Southern Oil will be running the test engine solely on renewable diesel to prove it performs identically to petroleum-based diesel in terms of performance and wear-and-tear on the engine.

“Warranty by an original equipment manufacturer like Scania is also crucial to commercialisation and uptake of the fuel, as it must have the identical performance and characteristics of fossil fuel,” she said.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick, said the Palaszczuk Government is committed to delivering a $1 billion sustainable and export-oriented biotechnology and bioproducts sector by 2026.

“Our government attracted Southern Oil’s $25 million biofuels pilot plant to Queensland in 2017 with a grant through the Advance Queensland Industry Attraction Fund,” said Dick.

“As a result of the trial, renewable fuels company SynBio – a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Oil – will immediately relocate from New South Wales to Queensland.”

“Within six months SynBio anticipates creating at least 11 direct and 25 indirect jobs in Queensland,” said Dick.

“This is a great result for our state as we continue to solidify our place as a global biofutures leader.”

Before warranty is secured, an estimated one million litres of the renewable diesel will be trialled at Southern Oil’s advanced biofuels laboratory – the leading facility of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

Member for Gladstone, Glenn Butcher, said renewable diesel could eventually be used to power heavy transport, marine and industrial equipment.

“The Scania test engine is similar to diesel engines currently used in various transport modes, from fire trucks to superyachts; prime movers to cane trains,” said Butcher.

“It’s this diversity of use that will result in the creation of new biorefineries to produce renewable diesel – bringing high-value jobs to our regions and creating new markets for our agricultural sector.”

“There’s also a need for diesel generators in Queensland – especially during natural disasters – and generators operating on renewable diesel could produce enough electricity to power about 50 domestic houses.”

Southern Oil Refinery and SynBio Managing Director, Tim Rose, said Queensland is leading the country in biofutures and renewable fuels.

“We’re witnessing the first step toward proving renewable diesel refined in Queensland from waste products can be chemically indistinguishable from petroleum-based diesel,” said Rose.

“Having a company like Scania endorse our fuel is crucial to creating commercial demand for our diesel and moving from pilot scale into demonstration scale.”

“Today’s demonstration shows there’s a huge opportunity to produce 100 per cent renewable diesel fuel in Queensland from waste products, which could lead to a significant reduction in industry’s reliance on fossil fuels.”

Scania Australia National Manager (Engines), Andre Arm, said the company was proud to be a global leader in the shift towards a sustainable transport future.

“We have developed our heavy-duty commercial vehicle, marine and industrial engines to be able to run on a variety of renewable or alternative fuels with no loss of performance or economy, while also reducing our emissions impact,” said Arm.

“Scania is delighted to be a partner in the proving of this concept.”

(Image: Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick)


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