Labor Announcement Supports Australian-first Biorefinery, Transforming Sugarcane Waste into Jet Fuel

May 17, 2022 | 3 mins read

A Labor Government would provide Licella with a $5 million grant towards the development of a QLD biorefinery to transform sugarcane waste into SAF.

Licella welcome today’s announcement by the Australian Labor Party in support of domestic biofuel manufacturing for Defence.

A Labor Government would provide Licella with a $5 million grant towards the development of a Queensland biorefinery to transform sugarcane waste into military spec fuels, including Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

This funding would help establish a commercial biorefinery in the Burdekin region of QLD, with Licella’s Australian-developed Cat-HTR™ technology at its core. It is a key step for Australia to establish an SAF focused biorefinery critical to our future fuel security.

Every year, an estimated 1.65 million tonnes of sugarcane tops and trash (unused waste by-products of the sugarcane industry) is produced in the Burdekin region. Through collaboration with stakeholders in the Burdekin, the opportunity exists to divert this wasted biomass from burning. A local biorefinery would provide a commercially and environmentally attractive alternative for growers.

“The opportunity for biofuels in the Burdekin region is immense. We estimate that by utilising the sugarcane waste burnt each year in the region, our biorefinery could produce around 73 million gallons of Sustainable Aviation Fuel every year. That’s about 900 full loads of commercial jet biofuel,” said Licella CEO Dr Len Humphreys.

Supported by the Queensland Labor Government’s Waste to Biofutures fund, Licella have already successfully demonstrated the conversion of sugarcane trash to biocrude at their Cat-HTR™ Commercial Demonstration Facility in Somersby, NSW.

This funding would accelerate demonstration of SAF production from Licella’s biocrude and the certification of SAF for domestic civil and military applications.
Burdekin Renewable Fuels Chairman Greg Rossato said that the funding helps highlight the potential for the Burdekin to contribute to a strong bioeconomy.

“Sugarcane as a sustainable feedstock to manufacture fuels and chemicals is an exciting alternative for Growers and our community. It continues the tradition of the sugarcane industry being a major participant in the bioeconomy.”

Once constructed, the biorefinery would create new jobs in manufacturing, alongside indirect jobs in the supply chain. It would significantly reduce emissions and provide much needed fuel security to Australia’s defence force.

Using innovative Australian technology at its core, the Burdekin biorefinery is good news for our economy, our national security and of course, our environment.

Read the media release here.