An Australian researcher at Central Queensland University is to determine the potential of creating biofuel from the tequila plant.
Botanically known as Agave tequilana, the plant that produces tequila is one of the most water efficient in the world.
Central Queensland University researcher, associate professor Nanjappa Ashwath, has agreed to help agave grower Don Chambers of South Australian-based Ausagave who plans field trials to demonstrate the plant’s potential to serve as an alternative raw material for ethanol production units located around sugar mills.
‘We have an excellent opportunity here, as Agave tequilana can be harvested and supplied to mills during the six months of the year when sugar cane is not available,’ said Chambers.
‘Agave can grow well in the Central Queensland region, producing up to 50 tonnes of ethanol feedstock per hectare per year. It is very easy to cultivate, taxing very little on resources as it stays in the ground for up to five years once established,’ he added.
Ashwath said there had been no research in Australia, but Chambers has propagated about 10,000 plants so that they can be trialled around sugar mills in Queensland.
‘Local sugar cane farmers have shown interest in this idea and Energy Enterprises Australia is willing to collaborate,’ added Ashwath.
He also said that Australia provided a perfect setting for agave production because of its large areas, limited water resources and plenty of sunlight.