Queensland Premier Anna Bligh was on hand today to open a new $10 million bio pilot plant in Mackay, which will help Australia become a leading player in the revolutionary new bio products industry.
Queensland University of Technology's (QUT) Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant was officially opened by Bligh, Federal Innovation Minister, Senator Kim Carr, and Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin.
Bligh says diminishing oil reserves and the effects of climate change mean Queensland must develop cleaner, greener, renewable alternatives to petroleum-based products and fuels.
"Bio products offer that cleaner, greener alternative. They are renewable, produce less greenhouse gas, and will reduce our reliance on petroleum. They are our future,” she says.
"In the years ahead we will turn sugar cane waste, forest and garden waste, other crops like sorghum and even algae into fuel, plastics, paints, adhesives and other chemicals.”
One of the plant's first research projects will focus on turning bagasse - the waste product from sugar cane production - into ethanol.
"This is the only plant of its kind in Australia and one of the few in the world available for this kind of research. Scientists from across the globe are lining up to use this facility," Bligh says.
Located on the site of the Mackay Sugar Racecourse Mill, the plant – owned and operated by QUT – will be available to companies and public and private sector researchers.
It was established with $3.1 million in funding from the Queensland Government and $5.2 million in Federal Government funding including $3.4 million under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy and $1.8 million under the Super Science Initiative.