Trial revs up on Australian-first 100 per cent renewable diesel

renewable diesel

An Australian-first trial using 100 per cent renewable diesel to fuel a Scania test engine is up and running, receiving support from the Palaszczuk Government’s Advance Queensland Industry Attraction Fund.

Southern Oil’s Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant at Yarwun, near Gladstone, is pioneering the refining of renewable diesel fuel made from waste plastic, old vehicle tyres, agriculture and forestry waste, and biosolids.

The high-end Scania V8 test engine is being used in its power generation configuration for the testing – allowing assessment of exhaust emissions, performance and response, fuel efficiency, cost and engine lifetime.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said renewable diesel is a much greener alternative to mineral diesel.

“A state-based renewable fuels industry would underpin Queensland’s domestic fuel security for decades to come,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Related article: Gladstone refinery to utilise hydrogen power

“Over the next 12-to-18 months, Southern Oil will be trialling renewable diesel in the test engine to show it performs identically to petroleum-based diesel in terms of performance and wear-and-tear on the engine.

“Southern Oil is also aiming to build a commercial-scale renewable fuel refinery within five years, which would create significant job opportunities and improve domestic fuel security for our state.

“This trial is a critical milestone for the development of the renewable fuel industry in Queensland.

“Warranty by an original equipment manufacturer like Scania is also crucial to commercialisation and uptake of the fuel, as it must have the identical performance and characteristics of fossil fuel.”

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick said the Palaszczuk Government is committed to delivering a $1 billion sustainable and export-oriented biotechnology and bioproducts sector by 2026.

“Our government attracted Southern Oil’s $25 million biofuels pilot plant to Queensland in 2017 with a grant through the Advance Queensland Industry Attraction Fund,” Mr Dick said.

“As a result of the trial, renewable fuels company SynBio – a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Oil – will immediately relocate from New South Wales to Queensland.

“Within six months SynBio anticipates creating at least 11 direct and 25 indirect jobs in Queensland.

“This is a great result for our state as we continue to solidify our place as a global biofutures leader.”

Related article: Energy emissions audit reveals power of renewables

Before warranty is secured, an estimated one million litres of the renewable diesel will be trialled at Southern Oil’s advanced biofuels laboratory – the leading facility of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said renewable diesel could eventually be used to power heavy transport, marine and industrial applications.

“The Scania test engine is similar to diesel engines currently used in various transport modes, from fire trucks to superyachts; prime movers to cane trains,” Mr Butcher said.

“It’s this diversity of use that will result in the creation of new biorefineries to produce renewable diesel – bringing high-value jobs to our regions and creating new markets for our agricultural sector.

“There’s also a need for diesel generators in Queensland – especially during natural disasters – and generators using engines like this could produce enough electricity to run about 50 domestic houses, using renewable diesel.”