QUT secures first Australian Research and Innovation Bridges project in Mauritius

Converting sugarcane trash to bioplastic will be the focus of an Australian-first research project involving QUT, the Mauritius Sugarcane Industry Research Institute (MSIRI) and major Mauritian sugar milling company Omnicane Ltd.

The project will be co-led by Dr Mark Harrison, Senior Research Fellow with QUT’s Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities, Dr Salem Saumtally, MSIRI Director and Dr Jean Claude Autrey from Omnicane Ltd.

Dr Harrison said QUT researchers will demonstrate technology developed in Mauritius by taking advantage of specialist research expertise and infrastructure.

“We appreciate the opportunity to help Mauritius achieve sustainable development and find new ways to develop valuable commodities from agricultural residues,” Dr Harrison said.

“As part of this project, scientists from Mauritius will visit QUT later this year to use our excellent pilot-scale facilities at the Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant.”

MSIRI’s Dr Saumtally said the partnership with QUT is a vital transition step allowing the MSIRI to laboratory scale its bioplastic process prior to embarking on commercial production.

“We’re exploring this new technology to diversify the revenue base of the sugarcane industry in Mauritius,” he said.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Mauritius and QUT alumni Ms Jenny Dee said she was delighted to see the first Australian project under this program focus on advanced technologies in the sugarcane sector, an industry that has such significance for Mauritius and historical connections with Australia.

“I am pleased QUT is leading the way to develop these collaborative research partnerships with Mauritius and I encourage other Australian researchers and private sector bodies to consider the applying under the same program,” she said.

Funding for this project was provided by the Mauritius Research Council which supports innovative, collaborative research and development projects with commercial potential.