Associate Professor Peer Schenk inspects new algae strains
Associate Professor Peer Schenk inspects new algae strains
12 November 2010

An Australian biodiesel company and a UQ student research group have teamed up to produce green energy.

Masters and PhD students are researching the oil produced from Australian algae in the lab and on the University’s rooftops, preparing them for future jobs in green bioenergy.

Students had a breakthrough discovery when they found that their local microalgae could help to produce large amounts of oil, perfectly suited for commercial biodiesel production.

Thanks to a joint venture between the UQ Algae Biotechnology Lab and industry partner North Qld and Pacific Biodiesel Pty Ltd, a renewable fuel product is now rapidly being developed.

Research leader Associate Professor Peer Schenk said the breakthrough in algae technology had inspired the development of a low-cost biodiesel production module.

“Microalgae are currently the only renewable energy source that could meet our current and future demand for transport fuel without competing for arable land or high biodiversity areas,” Dr Schenk said.

“Our students are gaining practical experience as they test varied culture parameters and learn to generate maximum oil content from these humble unicellular organisms.

“Importantly, students in the ‘Algae for Oil’ project are testing new technology that has been researched and designed at UQ to best extract and produce oil from algae, a prerequisite for large-scale commercial production.”

North Qld and Pacific Biodiesel Pty Ltd Director Stephen Welsh said, as a major supplier to tourist boats in pristine North Queensland, environmental sustainability was paramount.

He said he was keen to see the technology applied on a large scale.

The Algae Biotechnology Project at UQ is jointly funded by industry and the Australian Research Council.

The next major step in the program, expected in mid-2011, is the opening of a 1.5 ha demonstration plant.

Media: Dr Peer Schenk (07 3365 8817, 0403 905475,