Shell Australia launches new biodiesel facility in Western Sydney

Shell Australia today launched a new biodiesel facility at its Parramatta terminal to supply its Biodiesel 20 (B20) product to the New South Wales market.

Shell’s vice president downstream, Andrew Smith said the launch of B20 transport fuel in NSW is a response to customer demand to reduce the environmental impact of fossil fuels and potential liability under the Federal Government’s carbon pricing scheme.

Smith said that market research showed more than 50 per cent of commercial customers would consider using B20 in their fleets for either taxation or environmental reasons.

“Shell is committed to understanding customer needs, and when we asked them if they would consider using B20 if it was available 28 per cent they said they would because of the tax benefit,” he said.

Under current carbon pricing, biodiesel attracts a zero impost by the government.

“Given the zero rating of biodisesel under the carbon pricing scheme, using a B20 fuel in their trucks can help affected customers significantly improve their bottom line.

“A further 36 per cent said they would consider B20 because of the positive environmental aspects of using the fuel.” Smith said.

Shell’s B20 is a combination of diesel and a bio component produced from vegetable oils or animal fats that meet Shell’s sustainability standards.

Logistics Magazine announced the launch of Shell’s Diesel Extra fuel in 2011, at the time senior fuels and lubricants technical advisor Mick Pattinson, said the new fuel would help the road transport sector improve fuel efficiency and reduce their maintenance costs. According to the company, the Shell Diesel Extra can deliver fuel savings of up to 3 per cent over the lifetime of a vehicle compared to regular diesel.

Discussing biodiesel’s future in the mining sector, Australian Mining reported that bio-fuels can save company’s money and reduce emissions, but like any new technology, some adjustments need to be made when it comes to implementing the technology on mine sites. There are a number of both advantages and complications of using higher blended fuels.

At the time Ellis told Australian Mining that a "financial incentive around the carbon pricing scheme and environmental incentives" were "two key reasons we’d expect mining companies would be interested in this fuel."

Darren Barwick, Shell’s technical mining team leader, points out that choosing the right feedstock for biofuel is the key to ensuring it works for your business but admits there is "no perfect feedstock that fits every application".

Barwick said that although biodiesel can be used now on current infrastructure, things like poor quality feedstocks can create operational issues.

Because biodiesel is made from biological products it reacts differently to mineral diesel when put under different pressures and these are the most important things to keep in mind when making the decision to incorporate the product into operation systems.

However given its higher flashpoint, biodiesel is also less likely to ignite than conventional diesel providing an additional level of safety for underground mining application, as opposed to LNG or other such products where you have to invest in new infrastructure and technology.

He added biofuels held a distinct advantage for companies because they can use them ‘straight away’.

Barwick says interest from mining companies who want to incorporate the fuel is strong.

“There is definitely interest in using bio fuels,” he told Australian Mining.

“They know it’s there but don’t know much about it or who may be a bit worried about using it because in the past there has been some poor quality bio fuels in the market place which has caused issues.”

Biofuels Association of Australia said adopting second generation technologies when they become viable will be a key way to sustain the mining, transport and infrastructure industries but says alternative feedstocks are needed, as well as additional infrastructure and more consistent access to markets.

B20 is already available from Shell’s Melbourne terminal and Shell said they plan to expand availability across the country.

Algae to fuel trucks and jobs

 
The production of biodiesel from algae could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help to address future fuel shortages and create jobs in rural Australia.
 
CSIRO Energy Transformed researcher Dr Tom Beer and his team discovered the humble organisms’ green credentials during a detailed life-cycle analysis of the benefits of algal biodiesel.
 
“Our research has shown that under ideal conditions it is possible to produce algal biodiesel at a lower cost and with less greenhouse gas emissions than fossil diesel,” Dr Beer said.
 
“The greenhouse gas reductions are the result of avoiding the use of a fossil resource for fuel production, capturing methane produced by the processed algae to generate energy and taking into account the potential greenhouse gas offsets from industry.”
 
Algae thrive on carbon dioxide (CO2), which means that environmentally damaging CO2 emissions from industry could also become a useful resource.
 
Algal biodiesel could also offer a number of other benefits.
 
“Making biodiesel from algae removes the issue of competing land use because the facilities would not be established on land that might otherwise be used to grow food and the algal farm has a very low environmental impact in comparison to crops that are grown for biodiesel,” Dr Beer said.
 
“The Flagship’s research has made significant progress in a short time and our extensive biofuels program will continue to develop solutions that result in a secure fuel future for Australia,” Dr Beer said.
 
“Our study also found that the establishment of a 500 hectare algal biodiesel plant in a rural area might create up to 45 jobs and provide opportunities to diversify in the agricultural sector.”
 
The CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship is working with a number of partners, both national and international, to develop a strong algal biofuel research program.
 
“The Flagship’s research has made significant progress in a short time and our extensive biofuels program will continue to develop solutions that result in a secure fuel future for Australia,” Dr Beer said.
 
Despite the global interest in the production of biodiesel from algae, further research is required to create a viable industry with widespread uptake and impact.
 
“Although the findings of our study are very promising, challenges still exist in relation to cost, infrastructure needs and the scale of production required to make algal plants feasible,” Dr Beer said.
 
“We see biodiesel from algae as one potential option for sustainable fuel production amongst a range of other technologies.”
 
The paper, Greenhouse gas sequestration by algae – energy and greenhouse gas life cycle studies, is authored by CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric researchers Peter K. Campbell, Tom Beer and David Batten.
 
National Research Flagships
 
CSIRO initiated the National Research Flagships to provide science-based solutions in response to Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities. The nine Flagships form multidisciplinary teams with industry and the research community to deliver impact and benefits for Australia.

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