AusBiotech has been appointed to manage a new Federal Government project to boost research into second generation biofuels, with a $3 million investment as part of the Super Science Education Investment Fund (EIF).

The “Sustainable Energy – Second Generation Biofuels Research Infrastructure EIF Project” will be undertaken at two pilot-scale production facilities established under the National Collaborative Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) program, which AusBiotech also manages.

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AusBiotech will support the efforts of the two project participants – The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) – in the development of the facilities and be responsible for the overall management of the project.

QUT’s Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant (MRBPP) Facility will receive $1.765 million to purchase infrastructure to increase the range of capabilities they are able to offer researchers developing processes for the conversion of cellulosic biomass into renewable transport fuels (bioethanol) and high-value biocommodities.

MRBPP also received $6.8 million in funding via the NCRIS program from the Federal and Queensland governments in 2007 toward building the facility. The facility is hosted by Mackay Sugar Limited on the site of the Racecourse Mill in Mackay. In addition to sugarcane bagasse and trash which is readily available from the sugar factory, the facility will be capable of processing a wide range of biomass feedstock, sourced from partners throughout Australia.
SARDI will receive $1.235 million to expand their NCRIS Photobioreactor Facility to include additional photobioreactors, raceway ponds and a biodiesel plant for larger scale experiments into the production of biodiesel and other high value algae-derived products. This is in addition to a $5 million fund provided through the NCRIS Program in 2007 by the Federal and South Australian governments to establish the facility.

Both facilities aim to link innovations in product and process development with the assessment of commercial viability to enhance the uptake of these technologies in Australia. The infrastructure will be available to Australian and international researchers, but Australian public-sector researchers and small companies will receive substantial discounts to access these facilities.

The management agreement between AusBiotech and the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR) will extend to 31 Dec 2011.

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