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Mallee-to-jet fuel project

The aviation industry is looking for alternatives to fossil fuels. One possibility is biofuel produced from mallee biomass. Source: Timberbiz

Progress on the mallee-to-jet fuel project conducted by the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), plus a further initiative to broaden studies into other biomass-to-jet fuel, will be presented at a number of forums at the Avalon Airshow near Geelong, Victoria, this week.

The CRC is working with aviation industry partners Airbus, Virgin Australia and GE, as well as biofuels processors, to promote and develop a renewable transport fuels industry via the harvesting and processing of mallee trees and other biomass feedstock into transport grade fuels.

Since 2012 Airbus has been directly involved with the CRC’s research by funding a sustainability assessment and life cycle analysis of the proposed mallee biomass-to-jet fuel industry in Australia, beginning with this study based on Western Australia.

The sustainability assessment and life cycle analysis report is due for release later in the year.

CRC representatives will meet with aviation industry partners this week. During the forum, Airbus’ new energies programme manager Frederic Eychenne will include in his presentation the vision for mallee biomass processing hubs, and CRC research director John McGrath will present on work towards an integrated approach to a sustainable biomass industry.

Dr McGrath said that since the CRC began researching in this area, the organisation has continued to broaden its knowledge and involvement in the developing industry.

“Future Farm Industries CRC has been driving discussions with the Australian Initiative for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (AISAF), Boeing and other research organisations to help raise greater awareness of the biomass-to-biofuels supply chain possibilities,” Dr McGrath said.

“Initially the CRC was focussed on determining the feasibility and economics from farm to processing. However, more recently we’ve been encouraged by our collaborators to investigate the complete supply chain from ‘farm to fly’.”

Mallee trees can be harvested every three to five years and will re-grow or ‘coppice’ vigorously from stores of nutrients in their root systems. This harvesting can continue for more than 50 years without killing the trees.

In New South Wales and Victoria mallee trees have been regularly harvested for more than 100 years and they continue to grow successfully.

More information on the mallee-to-aviation biofuels project can be found on the CRC’s website