Tequila plant offers fuel for the future

Biofuels have an important role to play in our future, in terms of securing fuel supplies, addressing climate change, and creating new industry in South Australia.

Associate Professor Rachel Burton from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls, along with PhD student Kendall Corbin, is exploring a range of potential sources of biofuel.

Their research on agave, the desert plant best known for producing tequila, shows that this fast-growing, highly water use efficient plan could be an ideal source of biofuel and other biochemical products in the future.

“Bioethanol yields from agave fermentation could rival the most successful biofuel feedstock crops around the world,” says Rachel.

“Importantly, it doesn’t compete with food crops, it’s fast growing so the whole plant could be used rather than just harvesting the leaves, and it is up to 10 times more water efficient than some other crop plants.”

And this makes it ideal for the broad expanses of arid land in South Australia, providing potential for future farming and industry in our state.

Rachel and her team is working with AusAgave who have trial sites of agave established in Ayr in northern Queensland and Whyalla, South Australia.

Assoc. Prof Rachel Burton
The Advertiser article
ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls
Media release 6/10/15
Radio Adelaide interview with Don Chambers (Aust Agave)

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