ABC Report: Nut shells fire up a power plant

A Queensland sugar milling company is planning to cash in on waste from another agricultural industry to create hotter and cleaner renewable fuel.

Bundaberg Sugar has partnered with Pacific Gold Macadamias this year to diversify fuel used in its cogeneration plant.

It’s a two-way street, as Bundaberg Sugar runs a macadamia plantation and supplies nuts to Pacific Gold.

This year, the nut processor is supplying the mill with about 2,000 tonnes of shells.

General manager of Pacific Gold, Shane Johnson, says macadamia by-product is used to create agricultural and cosmetic oils, but interest in the shells is increasing.

“In the last couple of years, demand for macadamia shell has gone through the roof actually, as an export product and domestically to be used as a fuel for co-generation.”

He says the shells have an intense heat value and clean burn.

General manager of Bundaberg Sugar, David Pickering, explained the mill would add the shell to woodchips to help burn the cane by-product, bagasse, used to fuel the refinery.

“It’s fairly high energy content in the (shell) fuel, so that makes it quite desirable to burn fuel and it really assists burning bagasse,” he said.

It signals a positive step back on track for Bundaberg Sugar after its bagasse plant was damaged in the January floods, forcing the mill to burn coal for six weeks during repairs.

Mr Pickering says the upcoming harvest may be challenging, with flood debris including household items littered throughout some fields.

To see the story in full, please visit http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-14/nrn-macadamia-fuel/4754978

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