WATCH: Yarwun plant begins testing bio-diesel in V8 engine
IN AN Australian first, a Yarwun biorefinery will test diesel made from waste tyres, in a V8 engine.
With hopes to prove the bio-diesel is as efficient as traditional diesel, Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant today announced its partnership with Swedish industrial vehicle manufacturer Scania.
Scania donated a standard 16-litre V8 engine to Northern Oil to take its biodiesel testing from the laboratory into an engine during the next 12 to 18 months.
Northern Oil general manager Ben Tabulo hoped the engine would confirm what lab results at the Yarwun plant already found: that the biodiesel was indistinguishable from other diesels.
"Renewable diesel needs to be able to go into any engine without needing modification," Mr Tabulo said. "It needs to be cost competitive otherwise no one will buy it.
"To date our testing has found this diesel is cost competitive with normal road diesel."
The testing will also include monitoring the engine's emissions.
"What we don't want is to solve one problem while making another so emissions from this diesel will be tested and monitored under constant and variable load, to at least meet the current standards for diesel emissions," Mr Tabulo said.
He said the product was also a solution to the nation's problem with waste tyres.
One passenger tyre creates two litres of diesel, but tyres from mining trucks, which make much more, are used.
Once the tyre-based diesel is tested, Northern Oil will test diesels made from non-recyclable plastics and commercial industrial waste.
If engine testing is successful Northern Oil will move to its demonstration stage early next year to produce tens of millions of litres of biodiesel.
But Mr Tabulo said while it sounded like a large amount of diesel, there was still a long way to go because Australia uses 24 billion litres of diesel annually.
The refinery, which opened at Yarwun in the Gladstone State Development Area five years ago, has been touted as a leader in alternative fuel generation.
Scania national manager engines Andre Arm said the company was pleased to work with Northern Oil to find a sustainable alternative fuel to diesel.
With a push for the nation to move towards using more electric cars to reduce emissions, Mr Arm said it was important for the company to invest in sustainable fuel.
"Sustainable fuel is the future, no one can deny there is a push worldwide to look (biodiesels) and Scania is on that journey," he said.
"I think it's one of the solutions (to reduce carbon emissions) ... I don't think anyone has the final answer but we're very interested in the different approaches to diesel production."
The Scania test engine is similar to engines used in other vehicles, including fire trucks, superyachts, cane trains and prime movers.
Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said the success of this testing could lead to renewable diesel being used to power heavy transport in Australia.
"Testing exhaust emissions, performance and response, fuel efficiency, cost and engine life is an important step is demonstrating how commercially viable this renewable fuel is," Mr Butcher said.
Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett said the refinery was one example of how the region is diversifying.
"In 20 years we'll look back at Northern Oil and see what they've done to diversify fuel production in Australia," Cr Burnett said.
He pointed to the recent announcement Mercurius would base its biorefinery in Gladstone as another example of how the region was establishing an industry.