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Future-proofing Australia’s economy - the case for bio-alcohols for transport

By Barney Foran

Australia's policy slumber on transport fuel security and timidity in greenhouse mitigation promise a significant and ongoing crisis for the next generation of our citizens. They will remember our boom times and consumption binge, as they contemplate worn landscapes, fractured transport systems and regional enterprise at the mercy of irritable world
trading blocs.  Part of the solution proposed here is to supply 90% of our transport fuels by 2030 from bio-alcohols made from wood feedstocks. This could offer a $10 billion turnover per year industry, possibly growing to $20 billion as domestic oil depletes.

Bio-methanol or wood alcohol is the fuel of choice here because of higher energy-to-energy conversion rates, its clean combustion properties, its capacity to substitute for diesel and its potential as a hydrogen carrier for fuel cell driven vehicles. Practically, cocktails of alcohols are best for fluent combustion, opening the way for a number of bio-alcohol pathways and avoiding technology lock-in. Most importantly, thermochemical rather than biochemical conversion is seen as best because it offers continuous production, a range of synthesis products and can use different types and quality of feedstock from wood, to stubble and municipal wastes.

Australia will need 500-1,000 regional processing plants by 2050 offering wide opportunities for regional renewal and other products. The political and institutional hurdles are immense and will require the revamping of conventional
economic wisdom and counter-cyclical investment by Australia's forest industries.

This article is based upon the authors' personal views and is not necessarily representative of the views of any other group or individual.  To view the article, click on the link below.

 Future-proofing Australia’s economy - the case for bio-alcohols for transport 510.05 Kb