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QUT receives funding boost to commercialise biorefinery products

QUT’s research into turning sugarcane and cotton by-products into digestible animal feeds, feed supplements and high-value industrial chemicals has received a boost with funding of phase two of the Biorefineries for Profit project.

The project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program.

Professor Ian O’Hara, from QUT’s Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities, said Phase Two of the project would investigate the critical issue of turning agricultural by-products from sugarcane and cotton into higher-value products and presented the opportunity to capture greater value from these crops.

“Three of the most positive and promising technologies from Phase One have been selected to progress towards commercialisation,” O’Hara said.

“Two of those technologies relate to producing animal feed products, and the work in Phase Two will demonstrate their application through animal feeding trials.

“The other area that we’re taking forward is demonstration at a pilot scale of the production of a specialty chemical from cotton gin trash which can be used for the production of fuels and bio-based plastics.”

QUT is a leader in research and development into advanced biorefineries and innovative technologies into converting biomass into high-value products and is undertaking significant research at the Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant (MRBPP).

Major research outcomes already achieved at the pilot plant include improved animal feed supplements currently in commercial trials and the support for the Mercurius Biorefining pilot facility in Gladstone where sugarcane waste is being turned into jet and diesel fuel and chemicals that could be used to make plastic soft drink and beer bottles.

SRA is the lead Research and Development Corporation in the Biorefineries for Profit project, with QUT leading the research and development activities.