ayleigh Bruce writes in the Whyalla News (Australia) that Resources and Energy Minister Gary Gray was in Whyalla, South Australia, last week to unveil the first “green crude” produced by Muradel Pty Ltd from microalgae at a pilot scale – a step forward, he said, for a whole new industry in Australia.
Muradel Pty Ltd was incorporated in December 2010 as a joint venture between Murdoch University, Adelaide Research and Innovation Pty Ltd and SQC Pty Ltd. The company’s core business is the development and commercialization of low carbon technology for reliable and high-productivity long-term culture of saline microalgae, for energy and other high value products.
During his appearance Mr. Gray said Whyalla was the perfect place to take a project of this nature to the next level, not only because it is in a “fantastic physical location” but also because it has an ideal upbringing in industry. “It’s got a well-educated, highly-capable workforce and, most importantly for these technologies, it’s got many days of sunshine.”
He added that if the site proves successful in producing green crude, it would be a sustainable substitute for fossil based crude oil. “Biofuels made from algae alone have the potential to displace up to approximately 30 billion litres of fuel each year, according to an Advanced Biofuels Study commissioned by the Australian Government.”
Muradel converted the algae to green crude as part of a $10.7 million project supported by a $4.4 million investment from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, via a pilot plant in Karratha, Western Australia. In the next phase of the project, Muradel will construct the scaled-up demonstration plant in Whyalla’s industrial estate to further reduce the cost of producing the green crude.
The demonstration plant is scheduled for completion by the end of the year with the expectation that it will be in operation throughout 2014. “There is an opportunity for the Whyalla region to be a front runner in a new advanced biofuels industry, with regional employment opportunities through the construction of the demonstration plant, and potentially, Australia’s first commercial algae-to-green crude plant,” Mr. Gray said.