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From algae to biofuels

20 January, 2011

A new Australian company has been established to produce commercial quantities of clean, "green" fuels from algae.

The company, Muradel Pty Ltd, is a joint venture of Murdoch University, Adelaide Research & Innovation Pty Ltd (the commercial development company of the University of Adelaide), and commercial partner SQC Pty Ltd.

Australian researchers Professor Michael Borowitzka (Murdoch University) and Dr David Lewis (University of Adelaide) are world leaders in the development of biofuels from micro-algae. Their work has already led to the establishment of a $3.3 million algae pilot plant in Karratha, Western Australia.

"The focus of this new company is to bring to commercial reality a large-scale business that leverages the natural advantages of the Australian environment, producing algae for renewable fuel and co-products from the biomass," Professor Borowitzka says.

"Our research team has proven that it is possible to grow large quantities of algae for commercial biofuel purposes. The establishment of Muradel Pty Ltd is the next major step in Australia becoming a world leader in biofuel production," he says.

The participants in Muradel contribute a unique blend of expertise.

Murdoch University's expertise lies in commercial production of algae and algal products, while the University of Adelaide is contributing engineering expertise in algal processing. SQC Pty Ltd is a South Australian-based company whose mission is to develop commercial processing of micro-algae biomass into renewable hydrocarbon products, especially fuels.

"Muradel possesses the right blend of skills needed to take the company forward, but just as importantly, to advance the science and technology behind the venture, which has the potential to deliver sustainability into the energy appetite of Australia and beyond," says Mr Ollie Clark AM, Chairman of Muradel Pty Ltd (and SQC Pty Ltd).

Dr Lewis says: "This venture, with SQC coming on as a commercial partner, not only brings additional investment to the project, but perhaps more importantly, brings the project a step closer to market.

"This is a great example of universities being able to translate their research into commercial outcomes and make an impact around the world."

Source: The University of Adelaide

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