Southern Oil Refining's Northern Oil Refinery at Yarwun in the Gladstone region.
Southern Oil Refining's Northern Oil Refinery at Yarwun in the Gladstone region.

Biofuels future is drawing near with pilot plant dates looming

MAJOR steps towards a biofuels future in Gladstone could start happening as early as next month with US company Mercurius ready to break ground.

Mercurius Biorefining CFO Michael Vevera was one of the guest speakers at yesterday’s Gladstone Engineering Alliance Industry Update Breakfast held at Yaralla Sports Club.

Mercurius’ Australian arm is fabricating and constructing a skid mounted pilot plant to be installed at Northern Oil Refinery in Gladstone to convert biomass/fibre into chemicals and fuels.

Mr Vevera said activity at the Yarwun site is starting soon.

“We hope to be fabricating our pilot skid in December and early January,” Mr Vevera said.

“We are hoping to bring it here to start installing it in mid-to-late January.

“We hope to finish that installation around late March, commission it in April/May ready to run it continuously in June.

“It will run continuously for three months after which we’ll take that data to inform building a demonstration plant at a much larger scale.”

Gladstone Engineering Alliance's Industry Update Breakfast guests included QUT senior research fellow Dr Darryn Rackemann, Mercurius Biorefining CFO Michael Vevera, Gladstone mayor Matt Burnett, GEA general manager Chantale Lane, Life Sciences Queensland CEO Clare Blain and Biofutures Queensland strategic biofutures advisor Chris Tindal at Yaralla Sports Club.
Gladstone Engineering Alliance's Industry Update Breakfast guests included QUT senior research fellow Dr Darryn Rackemann, Mercurius Biorefining CFO Michael Vevera, Gladstone mayor Matt Burnett, GEA general manager Chantale Lane, Life Sciences Queensland CEO Clare Blain and Biofutures Queensland strategic biofutures advisor Chris Tindal at Yaralla Sports Club.

That scale would see production increased from kilograms per day to tonnes per day at the demonstration plant.

“We’ll be doing 10-20 tonne at the demo and from there to commercial is 500-1000 tonnes per day.”

Producing the fuel will be environmentally friendly as well with no carbon emissions.

“In the production of our fuel we have no production CO2 whatsoever,” Mr Vevera said.

“That’s a big difference between us and our competitors.”

The GEA Industry Update Breakfast featured a presentation from Mercurius Biorefining CFO Michael Vevera.
The GEA Industry Update Breakfast featured a presentation from Mercurius Biorefining CFO Michael Vevera.

There’s already interest in biofuels, with Mr Vevera saying high-profile airlines have expressed an interest in using it into the future.

“Once we get up to full commercialisation – about 500 million litres a year – that completely meets the needs of Virgin Australia and Qantas.

“It also puts a very large dent in to the amount of diesel that’s being imported to be used in the manufacturing, mining and resource extraction industries.

“(The airlines) attitude is if we bring them a fuel that meets their specs they will buy it as long as it’s not more expensive than the fossil (fuels) and ours isn’t.”



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