Biogas from sugarcane

Project dates: 16/09/2021 - Ongoing

The project aims to develop technologies for the extended integration of bioenergy into the sugarcane production and milling process and potentially eliminate fossil fuel use in one of Australia’s largest agricultural production systems. This will be achieved through the utilisation of sugarcane harvest residues (trash) and surplus fibre from the milling process (bagasse) to produce biogas and upgrading the biogas and associated digestate into transportation fuels and other energy products for use in sugarcane production and processing.

This concept is a unique utilisation of two biomass conversion technologies to significantly improve the efficiency of biomass conversion for the production of high quality drop-in gas and liquid transport fuels.

Advanced anaerobic digestion of pretreated agricultural waste produces methane fuel and carbon dioxide. Using conventional gas separation technology, methane can be recovered and compressed to form a renewable clean burning substitute for compressed natural gas (CNG) as a fuel for vehicles and stationary engines. Digestate from the anaerobic conversion process is fed to a high pressure moderate temperature hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) process where the remaining organic material is converted to a biocrude. The biocrude forms a biphasic system and can be decanted from the residual digestate water using minimal energy and hydrotreated to produce a low sulphur diesel transport fuel. Mineral micronutrients retained in the residue from the HTL process are returned to the cane paddock as a soil improver.

Process development will be undertaken in four stages with pilot scale demonstration of the associated technologies in each of the project stages. The project will directly utilise or extend existing research and pilot plant facilities in Brisbane and Mackay in Queensland and further develop new pilot facilities established as part of a complimentary project in Broadwater in New South Wales.

This project received funding from ARENA as part of ARENA’s Research and Development Programme.


  • Australian Renewable Energy Agency
  • Griffith University
  • Sunshine Sugar
  • Utilitas


Other Team Members

Christopher Henderson