Australia has a multi-billion dollar opportunity to establish a new manufacturing industry on biorefineries to create high-value products from agricultural wastes, according to a new study commissioned by Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

QUT’s Principal Research Fellow Associate Professor Ian O’Hara said biorefineries produce the base chemicals for products including drink bottles, home and personal care products, and fuels.

“There are enormous opportunities for biorefineries in Australia, with the markets for bio-based product expected to grow strongly to US$160 billion globally by 2020,” he said.

The study, which estimates the economic impact from seven potential biorefineries projects in Queensland alone would be more than $1.8 billion annually and create up to 7,000 jobs over the next two decades, highlights the potential for other regions of Australia, particularly Northern Australia.

Professor O’Hara said Australia had many strengths on which to build a biorefinery industry including large quantities of agricultural biomass, established infrastructure, and a stable government.

QUT’s research leadership in the field has been supported by its investement in world-class research facilities such as the $10 million Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant (MRBPP) which is based in the regional centre of Mackay in Queensland.

QUT’s blueprint for the Australian biorefinery industry focuses on key areas including: creating business opportunities, developing and attracting the best technologies and people, developing biorefinery hubs, and supporting commercial developments.

QUT is a leader in research and development into advanced biorefineries and innovative technologies to convert waste biomass into greener replacements for chemicals resins, plastics and fuels.

The full QUT study Economic Impact of a Future Tropical Biorefinery Industry in Queensland, the blueprint and a two minute infographic are available at the university’s Centre for Tropical Crop and Biocommodities at: