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Algae–turning waste water into feed, fertiliser and fuel

Researchers Professor Rocky de Nys and Dr Nicholas Paul have been harnessing algae to clean waste water, create human and animals foods, and produce biofuels for potential use in aviation, mining and marine industries.

Their team at the world leading algal research facility, The Centre for Macroalgal Resources and Biotechnology (MACRO) at James Cook University, has successfully developed a biological crude oil from algae that can be refined into a range of renewable fuels such as diesel, jet fuel and petroleum.

The aviation and transport industries are already heavily involved in utilising these biofuels as a commercially viable and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

The real twist is that the algae is grown on waste water including sewage, mine sites and aquaculture.

As the algae grows it extracts nitrogen and phosphorus from the water as well as carbon from the atmosphere or industrial sources.

Other algal by-products are useful commercial products such as animal and fish feed, seaweed for human consumption, fertiliser and biochar.

This range of uses for algae is set to make MACRO a key national and international hub for emerging industries in bio-manufacturing.

Collaboration across research, business and industry has been vital to the success of MACRO with cornerstone commercial partner MBD Energy Ltd playing a key role in the business development and application of MACRO’s research.

Other collaborators include the University of Sydney, University of Adelaide, University of Southern Queensland and Licella Ltd.

This year MACRO won the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) World Environment Day Award for Excellence in Sustainable Water Management for its ground-breaking research using algae to treat wastewater.

MACRO’s innovative research is currently being successfully used by Pacific Reef Fisheries and at a wastewater plant of Townsville City Council at Cleveland Bay.

MACRO has received funding from commercial partner MBD Energy, ARENA, the Innovative Manufacturing CRC, the Queensland Government and Meat and Livestock Australia.

Further information

Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia (CC BY-ND 3.0)
Last updated
18 July, 2017

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