Eucalypts: the fuel of the future

Robert Henry is leading a project to use eucalypts and other non-food crops as a source of biofuel.
Robert Henry is leading a project to use eucalypts and other non-food crops as a source of biofuel.

Up to 30 per cent of the fuel needed for Australia’s road transport and the aviation industry could be generated through biofuels, creating tens of thousands of jobs and adding $5 billion to Australia’s economy.

And one of the prime sources of biofuel, according to Southern Cross University’s Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics, could be eucalypts.

Prof. Robert Henry, director of the Centre, believes biofuels can be a significant contributor to transport fuel and make a real difference in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions—without adversely impacting on food production or biodiversity.

The Centre, which is collaborating with international food, energy and transport companies in a major research initiative, is developing techniques to use crops such as eucalypts, as well as the waste material from high-yielding plants such as sugar cane, in the production of biofuels.

The research will make a much wider range of plants available as sources of biomass and reduces the risk that biofuel crops will displace food crops. Eucalypts, one of the prime sources of biofuels, can be grown in marginal grazing land providing an alternative income source for graziers.

For more information: Southern Cross University, Brigid Veale, Tel: +61 (2) 6659 3006, brigid.veale@scu.edu.au, www.scu.edu.au/scunews

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