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Pilot sewage to crude oil plant gets $4 million funding

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$4 million AUD (€2.5 million) in funding is set to be provided to Australia’s Southern Oil Refining for a pilot plant which will turn biosolids from sewage to crude oil. According to a statement, the demonstration plant will be the first step towards developing biosolid waste to renewable fuels plants at sewage treatment facilities in Australia.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will provide the funding on behalf of the Australian government for the pilot at a refinery near Gladstone, Queensland.

Over 300,000 tonnes of biosolids, a byproduct of the treatment of wastewater, are produced in Australia each year, according to an ARENA statement.

The pilot project will cost AUD$11.8 million (€7.49 million) in total, and will see a demonstration scale hydrothermal liquefaction reactor built to produce the crude oil from biosolids. The process will involves the treatment of biosolids using a thermochemical conversion process.

Southern Oil has partnered with Melbourne Water and will use stockpiled biosolids at the utility’s wastewater treatment facility at Werribee, Victoria. Biosolids from a local sewage treatment facility will also be used in the pilot project.

“This ARENA funding will facilitate Australia’s largest ever demonstration scale reactor using wastewater treatment biosolids to produce renewable crude oil.  We will then refine this crude oil into 100 per cent drop in renewable fuels”, said Tim Rose, managing director of Southern Oil Refining.

“With waste water treatment stockpiles across the country, this project is entirely scalable and I believe will ultimately lead to the production of hundreds of millions of litres of renewable fuel each year in Australia.  This outcome would greatly benefit the environment, be tremendous for the economy while improving Australia’s fuel security”, Rose continued.