Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Mallee trees key to men power

West Australian
4 April 2011, Page: 17

Mallee trees in the wheat belt could be the next big source of green energy, say Curtin University scientists who have developed a method to turn woodchips from the trees into gas. The technology could offer a self contained source of renewable energy for remote towns, where oil mallees have already been widely planted in a bid to combat soil salinity. The technique, called "biomass gasification", creates a gas rich in hydrogen that can then be burned as fuel.

It can be a source of "baseload" power, because it provides a constant and reliable supply of energy, said Chun Zhu Li, who led the development team. Unlike many other biofuels, this method does not use food crops or even land that would otherwise be used for growing food, Professor Li said. Oil mallees are typically grown on marginal land. The mallee trees planted in WA could potentially generate 10 million tonnes of biomass that could be converted into gas fuel, he said. The project was developed with a $2.4 million Federal grant.