Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant

Project dates: 01/01/2010 - Ongoing

Our Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant, based on the site of an operating sugar factory, is a unique research and development facility that converts biomass into biofuels, green chemicals and other bioproducts. The plant can develop and demonstrate a wide range of technologies at the pilot scale and is available for use by industry and research partners.

The Mackay Pilot Plant has been funded by the Australian Government (through NCRIS Capability 5.5 – Biotechnology Products and the Super Science Education Investment Fund), the Queensland Government Smart State Facilities Research Fund and Queensland University of Technology. The facility is hosted by Mackay Sugar Limited, one of Australia’s leading sugar manufacturers, on the site of the Racecourse Mill in Mackay, Queensland.

Our research aims and activities

We aim to increase the uptake of renewable bioproduct technologies in Australia by developing innovative, commercially viable products at the Mackay Pilot Plant.

Researchers from the Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy use the plant to conduct commercial research in industrial biotechnology, sugarcane processing and biomass conversion for high value product development.

In collaboration with industry and research partners, we develop new industrial products and processes using a wide range of biomass feedstocks from the sugar mill, including:

  • Sugarcane bagasse
  • Trash
  • Molasses.

Through our partners, we have also access to various other biomass feedstocks, including:

  • Corn stover
  • Forestry residues
  • Sweet sorghum
  • Energy grasses
  • Other crops

Biorefinery case studies

We have commissioned a study by Deloitte Access Economics, which has identified the economic opportunities for establishing a tropical biorefinery industry in Queensland. Read the outcomes of this study into tropical biorefineries(PDF file, 1128.93 KB)

Find more information about one Queensland farmer’s experience of using the pilot plant to test fibre crops for biofuel potential in this Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation case study. 

Chief Investigators