Australian Biofuels Research Institute (ABRI)

The ABRI was established in 2010 and is based at the James Cook University in Queensland. It was originally administered under the Energy and Tourism Department of the Department of Resources, but was transferred to the newly formed Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) in July 2012. Total finding from the government is AUS $20 million, with $5 million being a grant for algal biofuels and the additional $15 awarded on a competitive basis to research proposals from across Australia.

Major Projects

Projected completion data for the first round of projects is 2015. The major project, termed the Macroalgal Biofuels and Bioproducts Project is researching the development of biocrude. This project also focuses on how algae can be used to capture carbon and offset the carbon released when the biocrude is burned. The project is looking at how carbon dioxide from power generating plants can be directly captured, never allowed into the environment, and then used to help algae grow. There is also interest in using the same techniques to produce algae for food for both humans and animals.

A second grant, given to the University of Queensland is aimed at developing “drop-in” biofuels, which are chemically identical to fossil fuels. Clearly this project is focused more on energy needs than environmental concerns, but has brought interest from the United States Navy as a possible replacement for petroleum exports from other countries.