Green fuel project has benefits for industry
Thursday, 1 December 2011
A $1.5 million industry-linked project will see University of Adelaide researchers establish a small-scale biodiesel production facility in partnership with a South Australian company, which will use the renewable fuel to power its large fleet of trucks and machinery.
The University's FOODPlus Research Centre has teamed with Peats Soil & Garden Supplies, a major manufacturer and distributor of organic farm and garden products, such as potting mixes, soils and mulches.
The project - supported by a $622,997 Linkage Grant from the Australian Research Council (ARC) - is aimed at developing new methods of producing biodiesel from various organic and food wastes.
As part of the project, FOODplus researchers will set up biodiesel production equipment at one of Peats' operational sites at Brinkley, south of Murray Bridge.
The research to develop biodiesel from alternative, non-traditional, low-cost and low-grade starting materials is being led by the Director of FOODplus, Professor Bob Gibson, and Associate Professor Brian O'Neill from the University's School of Chemical Engineering.
They have teamed with Peats Managing Director Mr Peter Wadewitz, who says the project is ideal for his company in a number of ways.
"Peats is at the forefront of green organics recycling, and we believe very strongly in the pursuit of cleaner, greener fuels for the benefit of the environment and for industry," Mr Wadewitz says.
"Our daily operations also require an enormous amount of expenditure on energy, mainly in the form of petroleum diesel. If successful, this project could greatly reduce our company's energy costs."
Traditional sources of starting materials for producing biodiesel - such as high-grade tallows or vegetable oils - are also used for food and other purposes, which makes biodiesel from these sources no cheaper than buying petroleum-based diesel.
The researchers hope to overcome a number of problems other producers have encountered when using low-grade starting materials for making biodiesel fuel.
"The challenge will be to develop appropriate technologies so that we can utilise Peats' compost starting materials, along with other appropriate food processing wastes, to create biodiesel and significantly offset their diesel fuel expenditure," Professor Gibson says.
Director, Australia-China Joint Centre of Grains for Health; Co-Director, FOODplus Research Centre
Professor of Functional Food Science, School of Agriculture, Food & Wine
The University of Adelaide
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Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
The University of Adelaide
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