Advanced fuels from sugarcane and animal industry by-products

Assoc Prof Zhanying ZHANG

Australia has a significant opportunity to create a domestic supply of advanced fuels from renewable biomass. Advanced fuels are high energy liquid transportation fuels that are derived from agricultural or forestry waste; or other sustainable biomass feedstocks. Agricultural by-products such as sugar cane molasses, trash and bagasse are renewable biomass resources. These by-products can be used to produce biofuels like ethanol and renewable diesel. However, low oil prices, lower heating value and constraints in blending with petrol and diesel hampers the growth of these fuels and means you can’t use them in certain applications like aviation. This project is developing technology to produce valuable advanced fuels from agricultural by-products and animal waste residue.

Analysing samples

Benefits for agriculture

The agricultural industry will set to benefit from the implications of this project, with new technologies being developed and implementation of waste streams to produce renewable fuels. This saves economic and environmental costs of disposal and reduces contamination risks. Hence promoting the generation of a new waste management business model within the agricultural industry.

Benefits for producers

Increase employment opportunities as well as stimulating regional economic development by providing a new stream of income from biomass production. This is where primary producers can increase revenues through the sale of on-farm agricultural and animal waste residues, through improved contract prices for their products and new markets for products in sustainable manufacturing industries with high growth potential.

More information about this project

Agricultural by-products and animal waste residues are low-cost renewable carbon sources for growing oleaginous microorganisms. The microorganisms can accumulate oils as up to 60% of their mass. We develop the process to produce these microbial oils and turn them into high value advanced drop-in renewable fuels like aviation fuels.

The aim is to produce advanced fuels from sugarcane processing byproducts like molasses, bagasse and animal waste like manure. This happens through a two-step process for advanced renewable fuels production.

  1. Microbial bio-oil production from agricultural by-products by oleaginous microorganisms.
  2. Upgrading the bio-oils to advanced renewable fuels through the removal of oxygen using special catalysts.
Jet fuel application

Outcomes for industry

  • Development of technology for microbial oil production from agricultural by-products and wastes
  • Development of technology for advanced fuels production from microbial oils and biomass
  • Assessment of the quality and potential applications of the fuels produced
  • Demonstration of the advanced renewable fuels production process at pilot scale
  • New stream of income for producers within the Sugar Industry