Australian company launches Navy bio-fuel pilot project

Australian-based Southern Oil Refining is launching an AU$16 million biofuels pilot plant which, if successful would provide biofuels to the U.S and Royal Australian Navies.

The project will be built at Southern Oil Refining’s Yarwun plant at Gladstone, Queensland.

Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier of Queensland, said that the pilot plant would eventually be expanded to a large commercial-scale refinery costing $150 million and producing 200 million liters of advanced biofuel annually, suitable for military, marine and aviation use.

The plant is expected to be operational by later this year and within the next three years aims to have produced one million litres of fuel for use in field trials by the US navy as part of its Great Green Fleet initiative, and also by the Australian Navy.

Southern Oil Refining Managing Director Tim Rose said his company had been working with the Australian Defence Force for some time to develop green fuel technology that satisfied the requirements of the US and Royal Australian navies and the Great Green Fleet vision.

“The results of our preliminary investigations have been very encouraging and we’re now ready to move to this one million litres a year pilot plant. Once our biofuel is accepted by both navies, it will open the door to a commercial scale refinery capable of meeting the ADF’s needs and provide green fuel opportunities,” Rose said.

The Great Green Fleet is a Department of the Navy initiative pioneered by a group of ships allocated to the USS John C. Stennis carrier strike group. The blend fueling the JCS CSG’s surface ships contains alternative fuel made from waste beef fat.

The project is undertaking of the Department of the Navy and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aimed at making alternative fuel blends a regular part of the military’s bulk operational fuel supply.