14 March 2013 — A newly established joint research centre at Curtin University will help secure future energy supplies and reduce CO2 emissions from both Australia and China.

The Australia-China Joint Research Centre for Energy, established with support from the Australia-China Science and Research Fund, will develop advanced energy technologies with research on renewable energy and fossil fuels.

Australian Centre director and John Curtin Distinguished Professor Chun-Zhu Li said the technologies, such as biomass pyrolysis and gasification, could bring substantial economic benefits to both Australia and China.

“Biomass is among the cheapest of all renewable energy sources and is the only one that can be used to make liquid fuels directly,” he said.

“Furthermore, both Australia and China have abundant biomass resources. For example, Western Australia can produce enough non-food biofuels to replace a large fraction of its petrol and diesel demand.”

Pyrolysis technology with biomass has the potential to produce a clean liquid fuel and leave behind a carbon-rich residue, biochar, which can be used to improve the productivity of marginal soils while achieving carbon sequestration.

Gasification technology coupled with fuel cells using biomass has the potential to generate green base-load electricity with near-zero CO2 emissions.

Professor Li said the development of a bioenergy industry in both China and Australia would create unprecedented opportunities for regional and rural areas rich in biomass resources.

“The industry can potentially double the gross domestic product of these regions, allowing opportunities for much needed cheap energy and fuels for the development of other industries, as well as the production of biochar to help remediate carbon-deficient soils for food production,” he said.

Monash University is an Australian partner of the joint research centre and will collaborate with the Curtin and Chinese participants.