A waste-to-energy plant that relies on technology developed at Curtin University’s Fuels and Energy Technology Institute has attracted $3.9 million in grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Renergi’s $9.4 million demonstration facility in Collie, about 150km south of Perth, will convert landfill waste and other biomass to energy and biochar.

Renergi will design, build and operate a 1.5-tonnes-per-hour demonstration-scale distributed-energy-from-waste plant that will incorporate the company’s patented grinding pyrolysis technology. The plant will convert 4,000 tonnes a year of municipal solid waste, which would otherwise go to landfill, and 8,000 tonnes a year of forestry and agricultural wastes to crude pyrolysis oil and biochar.

While the crude pyrolysis oil will be sold as a liquid fuel for local industry, the biochar will be sold as a soil conditioner.

The plant is being developed in partnership with the Shire of Collie and with $2 million from the West Australian government’s Collie Futures Industry Development Fund. Renergi has also attracted investment from a consortium of investors linked to Sunshot Energy, an emerging energy company co-owned by Professor Ross Garnaut. This consortium will support the future commercialisation of the Renergi technology at other regional locations around Australia. ARENA has previously funded Renergi to advance and refine its pyrolysis technology from pilot projects.

Waste not

“Landfill avoidance has become a key issue in Australia due to restrictions on the export of materials to Asia, with about 75.8 million tonnes of waste being generated in 2018-19 alone,” said ARENA chief executive Darren Miller.

“Renergi’s project aims to solve some of the current waste disposal problems that are affecting our local councils. Renergi’s technology will demonstrate the viability of a scalable distributed-energy-from-waste process, which will use low-value waste to displace fossil fuels and thereby help to reduce emissions,” Miller said.

Miller said Renergi’s technology is a potential waste treatment solution for regional and smaller towns. “This plant will showcase a 100 per cent Australian technology we are proud to have funded in all key stages of its development.”

ARENA has previously funded energy-from-waste projects in Kwinana and East Rockingham in Western Australia, as well as Southern Oil’s pilot plant for the production of renewable fuels in Gladstone and MSM Milling’s biomass boiler in central west NSW.

The design phase will commence this year and the plant is expected to be operating within two years.