Queensland’s circular bioeconomy in the world news

This article appeared in the Biofuels Digest – USA. Photo courtesy of the ABC.

In the last few days, a Queensland oil refinery said it is making biofuel from old tyres and hopes to commercialise it soon to help take care of a huge tyre waste issue in Australia as well as help the country’s fuel security. One tyre equals two litres of fuel and Southern Oil Refineries said it has conducted large-scale pilot tests showing it works. They are moving into demo stage this year and plan on producing 10 to 20 million litres next year.
Southern Oil Refineries general manager Ben Tabulo told ABC News, “[We’ve proven] renewable diesel can work in Australia’s engines and does have the same efficiency on the road. The renewable diesel … has been refined from post-consumer waste, mainly mixed tyre crude oil and refined into 100 per cent drop-in diesel. Our laboratory has shown this diesel is indistinguishable from fossil diesel and will give all the performance that you expect from fossil diesel. Today we’ve put renewable diesel made from tyres, into this engine … it is a normal engine as you would find it trucks and boats, there is nothing special about it.”
Scania, one of the largest producers of heavy vehicle and industrial engines globally, is working with them to approve the fuel for use in their engines. Scania national manager Andre Arm told ABC News, “I think sustainable fuel is the future and no one can deny that there is a push worldwide to have a look at where we’re going with our conventional fuel. It shows Aussie ingenuity, it provides the possibility for fuel security and there’s the environmental benefit as well for sure.”
Government-backed bio-economy
When we talk about innovators, we usually talk about inventors, researchers, the geniuses behind the newest technologies, but a government can also fill that role, as Queensland did just a few months ago. The Queensland government was the first jurisdiction in the world to sign on to below50, the low-carbon emissions initiative, highlighting their commitment to a more sustainable fuel industry for the state. below50 is a global campaign of WBCSD promoting the production and implementation of fuels which produce 50% less CO2 emissions compared to traditional fossil fuels.
Coupled with the biofuel mandate, the move further promotes the state’s biofuels industry, looking to capitalise on a gap in the Asia-Pacific to make Queensland a regional biofuels hub.
As the regional hub host of below50 Australia, QRFA has been driving a low-carbon fuel economy and promoting further uptake of sustainable fuels for the state and Australia.
QRFA managing director Larissa Rose said: “Queensland is in prime position to become a world leader in renewable and biofuels, with its large agriculture sector, its proximity to Asia, and possessing State Government backing.”
Queensland’s potential as a biofuel hub in the Asian Pacific region was also brought up during government meetings in D.C. back in July 2018 between Queensland’s Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick and the U.S. Department of the Navy, as reported in The Digest. The Minister met at the Pentagon with biofuel experts and announced the appointment of Queensland’s new US-based Strategic Biofutures Advisor, Chris Tindal.
The Queensland government and the US Department of the Navy signed a Statement of Cooperation in August 2016 to collaborate on developing alternative fuels. “Since the agreement with the US Navy was signed we have seen positive growth for the industry here, Minister Dick told Manufacturers’ Monthly. “The Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant, Australia’s first advanced pilot biofuels refinery, has been constructed, and work is underway for the production of fuels that meet military requirements.”
Innovating tomorrow, today
Southern Oil Refineries and the government aren’t the only innovators and forward thinkers in Queensland, however. You don’t have to look very far to see R&D work being done to discover the next best thing for our bioeconomy.
Researchers at the University of Queensland supported by the US Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) and Sugar Research Australia are testing a range of sugarcane varieties to identify which types produce ethanol most effectively and efficiently, as reported in The Digest in March. Their gene-editing of sugarcane for use in renewable energy and bio-plastics could help secure the industry’s future.
Researchers are also collaborating with the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi to investigate processes that break down sugarcane fibre to make bioplastics.
Another study being conducted by researchers at Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Tropical Coprs and Biocommodities is the first to assess biofuels from biomass before turning to bottles and will look at whether PEF from sugarcane can be more economical than PET at scale.
The three-month pilot is looking at the economic viability of turning sugarcane waste, bagasse, into other compounds including plastic bottles. It is being conducted in partnership with Mercurius Australia using a patented process created by the U.S. based parent company Mercurius Biorefining.
Funded by the Queensland Government’s A$150M Jobs and Regional Growth Fund and the aim is to take the bagasse and produce biofuel and bioplastics at scale in a sustainable manner. Dr Rackemann told Beverage Daily that “The science has been proven. The engineering now is trying to prove the economics.”
And speaking of investment…
Putting money where your mouth is
Ok, so the government is on board. Innovative companies are on board. Researchers and scientists are on board. But what about the investors? Looks like they are on board too, given the latest investment action in recent months – heck, even in the last few weeks.
Proposals were recently being accepted for the $5-million, Queensland Waste to Biofutures Fund aimed at cultivating technologies that convert waste into useful products and create jobs in the state, as reported in NUU in March. Feedstocks can include food and household wastes, tyres, plastics, fats and oils, and biosolids from sewage treatment facilities.
“The Queensland Waste to Biofutures Fund offers grants from $50,000 to $1 million to develop pilot, demonstration or commercial-scale projects that produce bio-based products instead of conventional fossil fuel-based products,” Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Cameron Dick tells Energy Magazine. “The fund will support projects that transform carbon-rich waste from agriculture, food processing, construction and industrial processes into bioenergy, biofuels and bioproducts. Through this initiative we’ll see innovative waste processing technologies emerge that are scalable and can be deployed statewide, particularly in regional areas of Queensland.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is even promoting Queensland overseas for additional investments with a recent trip to Germany. At an event hosted by Australia’s Ambassador to Germany, Lynette Wood, the Premier said “Germany and Queensland are entering a new era of innovation-led investor relations, which will be strengthened further by the new Free Trade Agreement currently being negotiated between the EU and Australia and my Government’s $650 million Advance Queensland initiative.”
She also met with German representatives at top companies like Bombardier Transport, ShareNow, Siemens Energy, renewables finance group KfW and waste management company Remondis International, a variety of logistics companies during her trip last week. She mentioned that DB Schenker has been involved in bringing sustainable aviation fuel to the Brisbane Airport.
Shell is even investing in Queensland, albeit for an 800-hectare endangered native forest regeneration project.
Bottom line
We see the makings of a positive future for Queensland – between the government’s realization that the bioeconomy is key and worth supporting, the investments in R&D and initiatives to promote biobased businesses, and the already existing entrepreneurship and innovation that is creating new technologies, Queensland is sure to lead by example.

Why use tyre pressure monitoring?

In a recent
article prompted by accidents involving tyres I outlined how essential correct
tyre pressure is to personal safety. The
article generated questions about how to manage tyre pressures. This article discusses the importance of
using tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).

For years
industry has kept a close, real time watch on mechanical equipment. Some large equipment manufacturers have more
than 250 sensors on their machines, all of which can be read in real time, even
in a back office application. The large
miners are now using autonomous units which can be controlled from thousands of
kilometres away. Yet we maintain our
1950’s outlook on tyres by using a manual inflation pressure gauge. Why?

In the late 1990’s
Ford US released the Explorer SUV. It
had fitted Firestone tyres for which Ford recommended a particular inflation
pressure. After more than 80 fatalities
as a result of vehicle rollovers it was deduced that the tyre pressures may
have influenced the unfortunate events.

The US
Congress agreed introducing the TREAD Act in 2008 mandating the fitting of TPMS
in all light passenger vehicles “manufactured” in the US. Even the GM Holden HSV vehicles produced in
Australia destined for the US market have TPMS fitted.

The European
Union agreed with the intention even though many of Euro manufacturers had
already installed indirect TPMS (which operates from the ABS sensors). Korea followed suite as has China.

Australia has
a history of under reporting (I agree and over reporting in others!) in many
fields. An opinion piece in Mining
Australia (6th March) titled “the temptations of incidental
reporting
” which discussed
how the reporting is done and how safety slogans are portrayed and conveyed.

We tend to be
bombarded by so many signs, alerts and alarms that we just don’t take any
notice. Car alarms being comprehensively
ignored, say, in a super market car park?

Whether the
vehicle we are travelling in is a car or a haul truck tyres connect it to the
road. A tyre requires a set air volume
and so pressure to support the load it carries as well as providing the correct
profile of the tyre so that it will perform brake steer and accelerate as
designed.

If a tyre
does not have the appropriate amount of air it will not perform as intended. This was the problem with the Ford Explorers,
when a sharp directional change was undertaken the vehicle rolled.

Australia has
installed the 5 star safety rating for passenger vehicles which is a fine
outcome but it is a cure to an issue not the answer. If a driver understands that a tyre is not
correctly inflated there is a good probability of avoiding a manoeuvre the tyre
(and so the vehicle) is not capable of.
The driver can take corrective actions by either driving slower,
inflating the tyre correctly or just not asking it to do what it is not capable
of doing.

This is the
crux of real time tyre pressure monitoring, identify the issue before it
becomes a problem. It is an example of
the hierarchy of control where elimination is the prime outcome. The driver realises there is an issue before
it becomes a hazard. The 5 star rating
is perhaps like PPE, it protects the occupants in an event, which as safety
professionals will inform is the least preferred option.

So why has
tyre pressure monitoring been viewed as an unwarranted expense? A simple is that tyres work for the great majority
of the time. Will they when you
absolutely need them?

Tyres have
been a grudge purchase for most people.
Many buy on price and expect the highest performance. Tyres are one of those items where you get
what you pay for. The development costs
are huge with moulds for OTR tyres running to USD$1m each. Get them wrong and that’s an expensive
mistake. Just because it looks good
doesn’t mean it will perform as you require it to.

On road truck
tyres are usually second only to fuel in terms of operating expenses for most
operators. Buying a cheap tyre may
result in increased fuel bills. Does
that sound strange? It’s not. It’s about
rolling resistance. As anyone who’s had to
push their bike home with a flat tyre will remember it’s hard work. A tyre with a higher rolling resistance
requires more energy to move it down the road.
A poorly designed tyre will not perform as a well-designed tyre will.

Tyre
pressures reflect the work a tyre is being asked to perform.

Real time
tyre pressure monitoring provides instant feedback on tyre condition. Whether it’s going flat or working too hard it
doesn’t matter a tyre will continue operating without complaint until it fails,
sometimes catastrophically or else just goes flat. Either way your safety is at risk.

Far too many
people have told me “I wish I’d known about this before my accident….” The TPMS shows a visual alert and sounds the
alarms if a tyre has an issue. It’s then
up to the driver to acknowledge and react accordingly.

Tyres can
provide great service and perform to economic expectations only when they are
correctly inflated. In today’s
electronic world no one wants to put a gauge on a tyre anymore. Pushing a button or having a machine tell us
there’s a problem is the norm.

Tyre pressure
monitoring means keeping your family safe, delivering your freight safely and on
time. Why wait until it happens to you,
proactive measures are always the
best. Eliminate the potential.

Tyre safety, what does it mean?

Tyre safety standards in Australia are being further called
into question following the number of fatalities and serious injuries in the
mining industry. 

Not only the coroners
but also the unions are pointing to a deficiency.

Australia has developed one of the few standards (AS 4457) for
dealing with mining tyres anywhere in the world but injuries and deaths are
still occurring. 

Tyres are composite
flexible pressure vessels. Unlike household
gas cylinders which are rigid steel pressure vessels (like most compressed air
receivers) a tyre has a load placed on it, is rolled over unkind surfaces and
is generally ignored until it goes flat. 

Tyres are specifically excluded from the pressure vessel standard
(AS1210) with OTR tyres (>24” rim diameter) being covered under AS 4457 and
any on road tyres falling under SSection 25 of the Australian Design Rules
(ADR).

When you stop to consider things in detail a tyre is the
only connection between your vehicle and the road. 

The average passenger car requires tyres to
perform steering braking and some minor suspension functions as well as
supporting the load (passengers and baggage).
A giant mining truck tyre is required to support up to 100 tonnes, relying
on the air it contains within to support that load.

If there is insufficient air to support the load the tyre doesn’t
complain or refuse to work like an engine or gearbox. 

It just gets on with the job and literally
tears itself apart performing the function we ask it to do, right up to the
point where it can no longer function and fails, sometimes catastrophically.

Tyres for passenger vehicles have large safety margins
engineered into them during the design phase. 

This is to provide a margin of safety for abuse or lack of attention but
it is of course wiser to keep tyre pressure constantly monitored and the best
way of doing this is to use an automatic pressure monitoring system
(TPMS).

In the US, the TREAD Act mandated
tyre pressure monitoring for all light passenger vehicles manufactured in that
country from 2008 on. 

 The EU followed
suite in 2012, Korea in 2013. The
importance of tyre inflation pressures was mentioned by President Obama last
year. 

He indicated that safety on road
networks is directly affected by poor tyre pressure maintenance, more fuel in
consumed than is necessary thanks to tyres not being maintained correctly as
well as resources being wasted.

To most people tyres are a grudge purchase. They shouldn’t be. 

Tyres are what keeps us safe, keeps our vehicle
on the road performs the steering and braking functions as well as ensuring
comfort. It is not unusual to find that
until a tyre goes flat there is little if any attention paid to it, yet the car
has been washed and polished, the air freshener changed and windows cleaned.

For tyres that work hard (mining and transport) correct
pressure maintenance is even more important.
It is no longer adequate to check tyres when the vehicle has its
periodic maintenance. 

Both the mining
and the transport industries have for many years been monitoring engine oil
pressures using gauges and electronic aids from inside the truck cab, even
transmitting this data to the maintenance office so problems can be identified
prior to failure. 

Tyres on the other
hand are still stuck in the 1950’s using a hand held gauge to check pressures,
well, every so often. 

So how do we tell
what the tyre pressure is when we’re driving down the road? We don’t until it goes flat. 

In 2015 electronic tyre pressure monitoring
is not only feasible but is mandated on passenger cars. Passenger car tyres have an easy life, rarely
carrying their full loads, over-engineered and able to sustain a lot of neglect
and abuse.

Compare air in a tyre to oil in an engine. If the quantity of oil in an engine is not
correct then the engine will wear out faster, overheat and even destroy itself. If a tyre does not have sufficient air it too
will overheat and wear out quickly. 

It
will also consume a lot more fuel as it overheats and then fails, sometimes unfortunately
with disastrous consequences.

A tyre is not just a single piece of rubber but a composite
of many different rubbers all performing a specific function. 

There are steel wires within a tyre that
perform other functions and all need to be operated within the manufacturers
range of recommended inflation pressures.
Like all mobile equipment if it is operated outside of the manufacturer’s
recommended range then failure is probable if not imminent.

Whilst tyres appear simple they are a highly complex engineering
feat. Adhering rubber to steel is a
science all on its own, having certain types of rubber (such as tread rubbers)
remaining hard enough to wear yet flexible enough to roll is another required
attribute.

There are no hard and fast rules to identify issues or
problems with tyres, the easiest suggestion is “if it doesn’t look right it’s
probably not”.

Above all a tyre requires the correct inflation
pressure. 

Every tyre has this same
requirement.

*Adam Gosling heads up TyreSafe Australia who provide guidance to all tyre users. Adam Gosling is a qualified mine manager with knowledge built after more than three decades in tyres.

Kumho hopes RFID will save logistics costs

Tyre company Kumho has teamed up with IT company Asiana IDT to become the first tyre manufacturer in the world to implement radio frequency identification tags in all its commercial, 4×4 and passenger vehicle tyres.

Following a successful trial of the technology in truck and bus tyres throughout early 2013, RFID tags will be embedded in all of Kumho’s tyres in a move to streamline production and distribution as well as heighten quality control.  

Kumho hopes to save $10 million per year in logistics and quality control with the new technology.

According to David Basha, Kumho Tyre Australia’s national training and marketing manager, the technology is another example of the company’s constant innovation.

“Globally Kumho is committed to achieving optimum efficiency from its range of passenger and commercial tyres and this starts from production and distribution,” Basha said

 “The implementation of RFID technology across the entire range is as a direct result of the research and development Kumho continually undertakes to improve the quality of our tyres.”

Radio frequency identification uses radio waves to transmit and receive information stored in uniquely coded tags.

A reader is able to extract the information of a RFID tag from metres away without having to be within line of sight – making it more efficient than a barcode. RFID tags are also capable of holding more data than barcodes.

Currently the technology is used in tracking shipping containers, electronic tolling, motor sport timing, pet microchips as well as a range of other applications.

Each tyre will be able to be tracked by a central database containing information about manufacturing and distribution prior to fitment because of the information stored in the RFID tag.

”RFID technology allows us to easily monitor every tyre that we import and sell in Australia,” Basha said

“In the unlikely event of a defective tyre this technology will mean we can easily identify it and check its full history using the information in the tag,” he added.

The RFID embedded tyres will be available in Australia early next year.

Tyre maintenance tips for truck drivers

Road hazards can be a real problem for trucks and their tyres. Apart from the obvious safety issue, tyres and the need to change them represent a significant cost to the road transport industry.

But, if you are interested in saving money in this area, there is another big hazard to consider – tyre negligence. A lack of proper up-keep and maintenance leads to things like mis-matched dual tyres or mismatched pressures across dual tyres.

In turn, such lack of attention inevitably leads to tyres being consigned to the scrap heap with plenty of useable tread still on them.

Ferret.com.au has compiled a list of tyre ‘dos and don’ts’ for those in the trucking industry:

1) Tyre Selection

Running a tyre in the wrong application is one of the sure ways of damaging it. For example, tyres designed for on-highway use should not be used in an off-road environment.

Conversely, by using an application-specific tyre, you can help maximise a tyre’s performance and productivity.

2) Maintaining correct tyre pressure

Some blowouts just can’t be avoided; they are caused by hitting something on the road and maintaining the correct pressure will do nothing to stop them.

However, it is estimated that around 80% of blowouts are caused by incorrect tyre pressures.

Tyre pressure is something that needs to be checked and maintained at regular intervals. And there are systems available that alert drivers to incorrect tyre pressure readings.

But overall, regular maintenance is the real answer to this problem.

3) Mechanical problems

This covers a range of problems. Put simply, anything that prevents tyres from running smoothly, straight and true will damage them.

For example, fitting mismatched tyres of different makes or sizes is a sure way of consigning them to a premature retirement.

Similarly, misalignment is responsible for much premature wear. It can be caused by a number of factors, such as bad steering geometry or drive axles being out of alignment.

In addition, bent axles, axles that flex excessively or loose wheel bearings can result in rapid wear of the inner shoulder of the inner tyre on a dual wheel. And worn shock absorbers, which let tyres bounce more than they should, can affect the contact patch of the tyre.

Hankook Tyre Australia opens two new distribution centres

Hankook Tyre Australia has announced that it has opened two new distribution centres in Sydney and Melbourne to better service independent tyre retailers and their customers.

President and Chief Marketing Officer of Hankook Tyres, Hyun Shick Cho, officially opened the New South Wales distribution centre, located in Eastern Creek, during a recent visit to Australia.

He said that the company is investing in further growth in the local market at is seeks to become the number one brand amongst Australia's independent tyre retailers.

"With these new distribution centres Hankook Tire is able to guarantee same-day delivery to tyre shops in the major metropolitan areas of Sydney and Melbourne, which will help our retailers convert enquiry-into-sale more often," Mr Cho explained.

The new Eastern Creek depot, and a new warehouse at Campbellfield in Melbourne, will eventually hold a combined total of more than 120,000 tyres in stock.

The Campbellfield warehouse is operated by the Toll Group. Toll Group National Business Manager Rob Simpson said the operation of this site has been refined based on Toll's extensive experience in the tyre industry.

"We understand that market because we operated in it for many years, and we know that small tyre dealers need the same level of service as the bigger retailers," he said.

The Eastern Creek warehouse is operated by YCH Logistics. Based in Singapore, the company now has an Australian network of more than 72,000 square metres of automated supply chain facilities and an operating capacity of more than 100,000 pallets across the main hubs in key Australian cities.

According to Hankook Tyre Australia Managing Director Paul Park, since the commencement of operations in April, this new Sydney depot has already improved the speed and accuracy of tyre supply to New South Wales dealers and consumers.

How to safely replace pneumatic tyres

A RECENT fatality in NSW where a container handling reach stacker’s five piece split rim wheel assembly exploded has again brought attention to the danger of wheel removals and replacements on forklifts with pneumatic tyres for the local materials handling industry.

Incidents of this kind, while not a first, is not a rarity. MLA Holdings says technicians and tyre fitters need to be especially wary around big trucks with multi piece rims and pneumatic tyres, and follow safety regulations in regards to these pieces of equipment.

A relatively minor crack or fault on the tyre or rim can quickly develop into an explosion due to the high air pressure within, which can reach up to 1100 KPA or 155 PSI.

Removing, replacing wheels

When removing a wheel from a heavy truck or container handler, the tyre must be fully deflated, neutralising all the inside air pressure. This will reduce the risk of a catastrophic wheel explosion during the process.

MLA Holdings says it uses a wheel and tyre safety supplement to instruct tyre fitters and technicians on how to safely and correctly remove and replace tyres.

When removing wheels, the truck should be parked on level ground in a safe working area. The technician should chock the wheels and isolate the ignition and batteries.

Jack up the truck at the jack points and secure with an axle support device. It is important to not rely on just the jack.

Before removing any wheel nuts fully deflate all wheels that are to be removed.

Remove the wheel nuts and use a suitable lifting device to remove the wheel.

When replacing the wheel, inspect the tyre and rim for damage and cracking, and reject if faulty.

The wheel should be placed into the tyre safety cage and inflated to the recommended inflation pressure.

The inflated wheel should be inspected for defects, then fully deflated for removal from the tyre safety cage. If defects were found, the technician should rectify them.

Using a suitable lifting device, place the wheel onto the truck and tighten wheel nuts in correct sequence to recommended torque setting.

Even at this stage, precautions need to be taken in case of a tyre explosion.

A protection device placed near the wheel assembly will minimise the potential trajectory of explosions.

Inflate the tyre to the recommended inflation pressure from outside the trajectory zone, once again inspect the wheel, before remove the protection device, axle support device and jack.

Test run truck and retighten wheel nuts in correct sequence to recommended torque setting.

Return the truck to service, but after 10 hours of use, the wheel nuts should be retightened in the correct sequence to the recommended torque setting.

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