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Curtin spin-off company awarded $5.2 million to develop biofuel technology

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Curtin University spin-off company Renergi has been awarded a grant of $5.2 million by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to design and construct an innovative pilot scale biofuel demonstration facility.

Renergi is a private company established in 2012 to commercialise renewable energy technologies developed at the Fuels and Energy Technology Institute at Curtin University.

The company is currently developing energy-efficient biomass gasification for distributed power generation. The funding will allow the company to diversify into the production of liquid fuels.

Lead researcher, John Curtin Distinguished Professor Chun-Zhu-Li from Curtin’s Fuels and Energy Technology Institute said the project aims to develop an advanced biofuel technology for the production of economically competitive low emission drop-in liquid biofuels from non-food biomass.

“Commercially competitive technologies that convert biomass into advanced biofuels and biochar could help to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions, improve energy security and contribute to regional development,” Professor Li said.

“The information obtained during the project will be used in the future design and operation of advanced biofuel production systems which use the new technology.

“When commercialised, this new biofuel technology could significantly increase the production of advanced biofuels to meet Australia’s needs for green liquid fuels and carbon emission reduction.

“The new technology will also help to make mallee planting an economically feasible means to combat dryland salinity that is a severe environmental problem threatening the future of Australian agriculture and regional areas.”

Renergi Chairman Rod Hayes thanked ARENA for its strong support of Australian renewable energy technology and said the technology being developed was ideal for small-scale applications close to sources of biomass.

“Successful development of an effective bioenergy technology could have significant export potential as well as advancing the Australian biofuels industry,” Mr Hayes said.

Notes to Editor:

  • Interviews available with Professor Chun-Zhu Li; Renergi’s Chairman Rod Hayes and ARENA Chairman Greg Bourne.
  • About Renergi: Renergi is a start-up private company established in 2012 to commercialise a suite of energy technologies developed in the Fuels and Energy Technology Institute in Curtin University. The current technology foci in Renergi includes biomass gasification for distributed power and heat generation, biomass pyrolysis and refinery for the production of biochar, bio-oil and advanced biofuels, and co-firing of biomass with coal in the existing coal-fired power stations.
  • About ARENA: The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) was established by the Australian Government on 1 July 2012 to make renewable energy technologies more affordable and increase the amount of renewable energy used in Australia. ARENA invests in renewable energy projects, supports research and development activities, boosts job creation and industry development, and increases knowledge about renewable energy. ARENA is currently supporting more than 200 projects and is actively seeking out new projects to support.
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