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Biorefining in the Wheatbelt: A scoping study for assessing the feasibility of new biomass projects in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region

Taylor, Mark (2009) Biorefining in the Wheatbelt: A scoping study for assessing the feasibility of new biomass projects in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region. Other thesis, Murdoch University.

Abstract

Australia produces biomass through broad acre cropping, as well as by agro-forestry, forestry, and through waste collection. There has been strong interest, particularly over the last decade, in optimizing the value of these biomass resources by looking at new conversion technologies (to create new, high value products), and in utilizing waste streams where they exist. The opportunity may exist to greatly expand biomass industries in Australia, to produce energy and other products, and to address issues like climate change and oil dependency. There may also be the opportunity to improve agricultural sustainability (particularly in the case of salinity and soil degradation in the Wheatbelt) by improving the value of environmentally beneficial crops such as mallee. Most discussion so far on biomass conversion industries has centred on bioenergy (production of heat and power from biomass).

Driven by Australia’s relative inaction on bioenergy, all levels of government have made policy statements, and commissioned reports, encouraging biomass energy projects. Despite a strong mandate for industry to pursue bioenergy projects, so far little has changed. It may be possible to combine energy production with other processes to improve value extraction from biomass feedstocks, and so improve the viability of this kind of project. This is an unusual approach to making a business case in that some important desirable outcomes, like addressing climate change and agricultural practices, are external to the business case.

This study looks at biomass resources, local issues, and opportunities in Wheatbelt Western Australia. It seeks to provide a framework for developing projects that deal more broadly with biomass resources, looking for technical and economic synergies, and grouping processes so as to maximize the value extracted from the resource to improve viability of projects.

Publication Type: Thesis (Other)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Engineering and Energy
Supervisor: Bahri, Parisa
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/3249
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