Rice & Red Gum Timber Industry Residue Value Adding

Rice & Red Gum Timber Industry Residue Value Adding

Capacity to Deliver

The issue

The Murray Darling Basin Economic Development Program (MDBEDP) funded a range of local initiatives. One project supported the establishment of a Biochar Cluster Group to scope opportunities to convert waste organic material generated from local primary industries into biochar and the potential economic, agricultural and environmental benefits. The scope has now been widened to investigate other novel approaches to the production of compost and bioenergy from locally generated organic waste products. Currently most rice straw is burnt in the field creating air quality impacts (PM5 and PM10 emissions), rice hull production is in oversupply and the Red Gum Timber Industry is seeking alternative uses for waste residues that pose a spontaneous fire risk. Both wood waste and crop residue is readily available as a feedstock and in close proximity to each other, and according to scientific literature review, there are beneficial synergies for using the two feedstocks for biochar production as processing crop residue in isolation without wood waste would likely be unviable: and unattractive from a chemical composition and end user perspective, particularly agriculture.

The solution

The One Basin CRC project requires engineering infrastructure solutions regarding different elements of the project. Some off the shelf proprietary solutions exist such as pyrolysis units, however the project is seeking to scope a range of other options. Independent technical advice is needed from researchers and other experienced partners to analyse concepts and provide visibility from salesman and existing IP. The community would welcome infrastructure co-investment opportunities pending further business plan development. The MDBEDP and Murray Local Land Services have also supported testing the converting of rice straw via pyrolysis by Earth Systems in Melbourne which will convert rice straw to biochar and conduct a chemical analysis on outputs (biochar, syngas emissions, pyroligneous acid (wood vinegar)). WMLIG is currently waiting test results to determine the quality of biochar, and syngas generated from this project. Test results will help determine an indicative mix of rice straw to wood waste ratio needed to make a quality end product. WMLIG is working on a novel composting project with Elmore Compost and seeking interested landholders who would like to convert waste organic material, especially crop residue byproducts, to compost. The process does not involve using specialist equipment and costly turning and monitoring processes. Two microbiological products (cost @$13/tn) are added, along with a cover and then left for six months.

The impact

The organic waste circular economy pilot provides the opportunity to reduce financial costs for food and fibre producers; reduces waste, demonstrates potential for new business opportunities, while addressing climate change/resilience-building initiatives.

Key facts

  • To convert waste organic material into compost, biochar, syngas, and pyroligneous acid (wood vinegar) for use as bio-insecticides, bio-fungicides, and bio-stimulants via pyrolysis.
  • Collaborated with stakeholders to develop a scoping paper
  • For a biomass to bio-energy plant using pyrolysis technology via the One Basin CRC Quickstart Program, and is seeking local producer, industry, government representatives to be part of a working group with research organisations and institutions in the future.
  • Early-stage approval for further feasibility scoping

Project Partners