7 December 2009

More than 120 representatives of science, industry and government from across Australia will converge on The University of Queensland’s (UQ) Gatton campus tomorrow Tuesday, December 8 as scientists showcase the future of sustainable biodiesel fuel production.

Director and chief investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Legume Research (CILR) Professor Peter Gresshoff said showcasing the Pongamia Pinnata would provide participants from the 2009 Bioenergy Australia Conference with insight into a leading edge Australian biodiesel program.

“A single Pongamia tree produces up to 30,000 seeds each year and yields about five tonnes of oil per hectare per year so is a promising candidate for the biodiesel industry,” Professor Gresshoff said.

“Our biodiesel program looks at the biology, genetics and physiology of Pongamia to increase the efficiency of the oil rich seeds for sustainable biodiesel manufacturing.”

The Gatton field trial was established last year after the programs success, which in its short time has produced significant industry interest and funding.

The plantation comprises 300 trees that are monitored by the CILR for their growth rate and nitrogen and carbon captured from the atmosphere and returned to biomass and the soil.

“This highlights additional financial benefits of the program through carbon sequestration (carbon capturing) and reduced fertiliser costs,” Professor Gresshoff said.

The Gatton Pongamia Plantation is part of the UQ Pongamia Biofuel Biotechnology project conducted in partnership with Uniquest, BioEnergy Research Pty Ltd, the Australian Research Council and Brisbane City Council.

Established with a $10 million Australian Research Council (ARC) grant in 2003, the Centre is a partnership that brings together leading plant research scientists located at UQ, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Newcastle.

The Centre is now firmly established as one of the world's leading legume research centres.

The UQ Gatton Pongamia Plantation site visit will be held tomorrow from 2-3pm, as part of the Bioenergy Australia Conference 2009 conference.

The Bioenergy Australia Conference 2009 runs from December 8-10. Bioenergy related industries, researchers and government representatives will cover policies and programs, projects and project development case studies and emerging opportunities in the bioenergy industry.
Media enquiries: Charlotte Camerer (07 3346 9534, 0435 055 304 or c.camerer@uq.edu.au)