A Gladstone plant has attracted $4 million in Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funds for a pioneering project to create renewable fuels from sewage.
The $11.8 million Southern Oil Refining project involves building a demonstration scale hydrothermal liquefaction reactor to produce renewable crude oil from biosolids.
The renewable crude oil would then be upgraded to renewable diesel and potentially renewable jet fuel using Southern Oil Refining’s existing facilities that re-refine waste oils such as transmission and engine oils.
Biosolids are a byproduct of the treatment of wastewater. There are currently over 300,000 tonnes of biosolids produced annually through sewage treatment in Australia.
Southern Oil has partnered with Melbourne Water and will use stockpiled biosolids from a wastewater treatment facility at Werribee, Victoria for the demonstration project, in addition to biosolids from a local sewage treatment facility.
Southern Oil Refining managing director Tim Rose said the ARENA funding would support Australia’s largest ever demonstration scale reactor using wastewater treatment biosolids to produce renewable crude oil.
“With wastewater treatment stockpiles across the country, this project is entirely scalable and I believe will ultimately lead to the production of hundreds of millions of litres of renewable fuel each year in Australia,” he said.
“This outcome would greatly benefit the environment, be tremendous for the economy while improving Australia’s fuel security.”