20 July 2006

AusIndustry has awarded a $5 million Renewable Energy Development Initiative (REDI) grant to CSR Sugar for its sugar cane research program with The University of Queensland.

The grant will help fund over three years the SugarBooster program developed by UQ’s Professor Robert Birch.

A collaboration between CSR Sugar, UQ and UQ’s commercialisation company UniQuest, the research program is focused on the development of high-yielding sugarcane varieties.

Professor Birch said the varieties were being developed as a novel feedstock for the environmentally and economically sustainable production of ethanol biofuel production.

”Preliminary glasshouse results from growing high yielding sugarcane varieties for ethanol feedstock have been promising but the technology has yet to be proven in the field,” said Professor Birch.

By increasing the energy intensity of the sugarcane varieties, they have the potential to improve the international competitiveness of both the Australian biofuels and sugar industries.

UniQuest Managing Director David Henderson said the SugarBooster research program was a great example of industry recognising the significant commercial potential of research undertaken at Australian universities.

“CSR, with AusIndustry’s support, is enabling our researchers to develop an innovation which has the potential to give Australian farmers and industry an invaluable, competitive global advantage,” said Mr Henderson.

“Without CSR’s backing, Professor Birch’s research would take a lot longer to become a commercial reality.”

CSR Sugar CEO Mr Ian Glasson said that as the research was still in its early days, outcomes capable of commercialisation were not expected for at least five years.

“However, if the project is successful CSR Sugar intends to make the technology commercially available to the Australian sugar industry, consistent with market demand,” said Mr Glasson.

"This research is an integral component of CSR Sugar’s ongoing commitment to supporting innovation within the Australian sugar industry and is a prime example of the merits of industry partnering with Government.”