The Federal Government is supporting a new demonstration project being built in Gladstone, QLD, which aims to turn biosolids from wastewater treatment sewage into crude oil.

The government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), is providing Southern Oil Refining with up to $4 million in funding for the $11.8 million project.

The biosolids will be sourced from wastewater treatment plants in Gladstone as well as the project’s partner Melbourne Water Corporation’s Werribee facility.

The renewable crude oil will then be upgraded to renewable diesel and potentially jet fuel.

Minister for the Environment, Josh Frydenberg, said, “With Australia producing over 300,000 tonnes of biosolids through sewage treatment annually, it makes sense to look for options for commercialising its disposal.

“Bioenergy projects not only provide a possible alternative to the stockpiling of waste, but also have the potential to help with Australia’s fuel security.”

This project will use Southern Oil Refining’s existing Northern Oil Refining facility in Gladstone which is currently used for re-refining waste oils such as transmission and engine oils.

It will treat up to one million litres of biosolids per annum, using a thermochemical conversion process to produce a biocrude.

Ken O’Dowd, Member for Flynn in Queensland, is excited for Gladstone to be home of world-class, state-of-the-art technology, recognising how far Northern Oil Refining has come from processing tyres and rubber back to base oil at 80 per cent conversion.

“Using the skills and some of the world’s best research and development and scientists, there is no stopping this remarkable new age company from achieving this huge benefit that was once thought to be a distant aspiration,” Mr O’Dowd said.

The project builds on Australia’s first advanced biocrude and biofuel laboratory, based at the same site, which received $2.4 million in funding from the Federal Government through ARENA.

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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