Industrial Biotechnology Research

Professor Ian O’Hara at the Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant

QUT has Australia’s leading capability in industrial biotechnology and bioprocessing research. This capability includes research expertise in the production of high value products including chemicals and fuels from agricultural residues through thermal chemical and biological pathways and research infrastructure including the Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant facility.

Industrial Biotechnology capabilities include:

  • Development of food, fodder, fibre, and energy crops with enhanced traits
  • Biomass supply chains, logistics and processing
  • Cost-effective processing of lignocellulosic feedstocks
  • Tailored enzymes for improved industrial performance
  • Integration of enzymes into industrial processes
  • High-yielding microbial systems and fermentation processes
  • High value bio-products production
  • Increased efficiency in water and energy use
  • Process integration
  • Techno-economic assessment of biorefinery, biofuel and bio-product technologies
  • Australia’s only biorefinery pilot plant—bridging the gap between laboratory research and commercial reality

Technologies developed at QUT include:

  • Improved pretreatment technologies based on the use of low cost green solvents
  • Hydrothermal liquefaction technologies for biomass conversion to fuels and chemicals
  • Conversion of lignin into higher-value products, including recyclable, water-resistant coatings for paper and cardboard
  • Development of a non-pneumatic sugar cane trash separator that has demonstrated no cane loss with high separation of trash
  • A fractionation system for selectivity purifying desired compounds using near-critical COand/or dimethyl-ether
  • Isolation of novel genes from a native Australian ‘resurrection’ plant that enhances drought and salinity tolerance
  • Biodiversity screening systems and multi-omic methods for functional gene identification