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Ethtec receives ARENA funding for Australia’s first cellulosic ethanol plant

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced funding for Australian biofuel company Ethanol Technologies Limited (‘Ethtec’) to complete the development and demonstration of its groundbreaking advanced biofuel technology.

As part of an AUD 48 million (USD 36.3 million) project, Ethtec aims to construct an AUD 30 million (USD 22.7 million) purpose-built pilot-scale facility based in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. The plant is expected to produce 270,000 litres of biofuel per annum, with the aim of making the technology available to the commercial market within five years.

ARENA’s funding in the amount of AUD 11.9 million (USD 9 million), on behalf of the Australian Government, will go towards the completion of the pilot demonstration plant which will produce ethanol from a range of non-food waste plant matter left over from crop harvesting and forestry.

Ethtec has developed an innovative and cost-effective approach to produce bioethanol from a range of waste or low-value products, including sugarcane bagasse, forestry residues and cotton gin trash, known as lignocellulosic biomass.

Demand for ethanol in Australia is expected to increase by approximately 500 million litres each year over the period to 2030, with mandates in Queensland and New South Wales. All of Australia’s ethanol is currently first generation, sourced from wheat and sugarcane, while second-generation ethanol is derived from inedible plant waste.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the next phases of the project were important in making advanced biofuels a viable option to support emissions reduction for the transport sector.

“Advanced biofuels provides an exciting opportunity for Australia to open up export avenues and also help reduce emissions from the transport sector.

“Ethtec’s facility in the Hunter Valley will demonstrate a new and innovative process for the production of bioethanol, gaining pivotal research and development experience that will lead to the commercialisation of the process and position Australia as a leader in advanced biofuels,” Frischknecht said.