Two 80,000-litre tanks have been loaded in Newcastle bound for Gladstone as Southern Oil Refining continues construction of its $16 million biofuel pilot plant.
The project will help determine the best types of feedstock for a planned $150 million, commercial-scale biofuel plant in the central Queensland city.
Southern Oil Refining managing director Tim Rose expected the Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant to be complete in April.
“Infrastructure is being put in place as we speak,” Mr Rose said.
“One of the sheds has been completed and all of the fire systems and connecting pipe work needed for that.
“The 80,000-litre tanks should be arriving on site (today) and we are getting ready for the next round of civil work.”
The proponents abandoned plans to re-purpose the mothballed Queensland Energy Resources oil shale extraction plant for the pilot facilities, which will instead be solely based at Southern Oil Refining and JJ Richards & Sons’ existing Northern Oil Refinery site at Yarwun.
Federal Minister for Small Business Michael McCormack last month officially opened a $5.3 million biocrude and biofuel laboratory built as part of the venture with funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
Mr Rose said Brisbane-based Fitzroy Engineering was leading the pilot plant construction, with local firm Miller’s Concrete and Bobcat Hire performing civil works.
With the infrastructure and services in place, he said it was now a matter of waiting for the major equipment to arrive.
This is expected to include two types of pyrolysis units, a destructive distillation unit and a solid waste unit, a hydrothermal liquefactor and a hydrogen generation unit.
“What we are planning to do is take in solid and liquid waste and put it through various machines depending on their specialty,” Mr Rose said.
“Each machine will produce two streams. The liquid steam we will put through our refinery to make into a renewable fuel. The second stream will come out as syngas, some of which we will put through our hydrogen generation plant to make hydrogen – which is one of those ‘future fuels’ we’re playing around with at the moment.
“Some of the syngas will go off and replace the natural gas we use on site as part of the process.”
A network of upstream biocrude plants throughout regional Queensland would be required to feed the planned commercial-scale plant – producing about 200 million litres of biofuel annually.
Bagasse from the sugar industry, old mining tyres, woody weeds, specialty crops, municipal green waste and spent bio-sludge from sewage treatment plants are among the potential feedstocks that Southern Oil is investigating.
Mr Rose said Southern Oil was continuing discussions with potential suppliers.