Virgin Australia partners to develop unique Australian bio-fuel

7th Jul 2011
Virgin Australia partners to develop unique Australian bio-fuel

Virgin Australia today announced that it has partnered with Renewable Oil Corporation (ROC), Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation (DYMTF) and Future Farm Industries Co-operative Research Centre (FFI CRC) to develop a sustainable aviation biofuel that also has benefits for the Australian farming community and the environment.

In a world first, the consortium plans to use innovative fast pyrolysis technology developed by Dynamotive to process mallees, a eucalypt tree that can be grown sustainably in many parts of Australia.

The partnership brings together companies with special expertise in growing, harvesting and processing feedstock into aviation fuel to support the development of a full scale commercial plant in Western Australia.

Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti said: “Over the past few years Virgin Australia has been working with stakeholders across the industry to research and develop bio-derived renewable fuels that can be used to progressively replace conventional aviation fuels.

“We believe this new project has great potential given the results with the technology and the availability of this unique Australian feedstock.


“It is also particularly attractive to Virgin Australia because it aligns with our commitment to supporting the Australian economy and environment, and encouraging Australian innovation”, Mr Borghetti said.

Dynamotive has invested in excess of $100 Million and more than 10 years of work in developing its fast pyrolysis technology from bench-scale through to commercial-scale plants in Canada. The plants are equipped to make pyrolysis oil for fuels and also produce biochar, for soil improvement and carbon sequestration.

Dynamotive CEO Mr Andrew Kingston said “We are very excited to join Virgin Australia, Renewable Oil Corporation and the CRC in this initiative and provide our technology. We have a great opportunity to develop a sustainable industry in Western Australia capable of producing second generation fuels that do not require food sources and have positive effects in land and water management.”

Leading the commercialisation of mallees is the Future Farm Industries Co-operative Research Centre (FFI CRC), a national R&D joint venture with experts in breeding, growing and harvesting these trees.

CRC CEO Mr Kevin Goss said: “Our research shows that mallees can be planted in balance with profitable crop and livestock production in Australia’s wheatbelt region. As well as becoming a source of biomass for renewable energy they offer protection from wind erosion, help to avoid dryland salinity and provide improved livestock shelter. They even provide habitat for native birds and mammals.”

Already more than 1,000 farmers have planted mallees in belts on their farms, mainly in Western Australia. Later this year the FFI CRC partnership will bring the prototype, world’s first hardwood biomass harvester to Western Australia for wide-scale demonstrations.

Renewable Oil Corporation (ROC), which identified the mallee tree as a promising biofuel feedstock, is Dynamotive’s Australian partner and develops biofuel projects in Australia.

ROC CEO Colin Stucley summed up: “We are excited about the potential of this consortium. It offers world-class biofuel technology, and a unique Australian feedstock. We look forward to supplying commercial quantities of renewable biofuels for use by Virgin Australia and building this new business.”

The consortium is currently finalising plans for a demonstration unit that will make bio-fuels for testing, certification and public trials. The demonstration unit is intended to be operational in 2012, followed by the construction of a commercial-scale plant, which could be operational as early as 2014.

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