Researchers in Queensland are preparing to make a bid to provide the US Navy with biofuels for ships and planes by 2020.


Announcing the bid at BIO 2011 in Washington, the Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh said that Queensland had a number of advantages in biofuels technology development.


"Queensland is a big sugar producer and the state is well placed with a number of research institutions working in the biofuels area,” she said.


Ms Bligh said the US Navy is trialling biofuels in its aircraft and ships, and  by 2020  it wants half its fuel needs met from alternative sources. President Obama has directed the Navy and Department of Energy to work with the private sector to create advanced biofuels that can power jet fighters and landing craft, but also trucks and commercial airliners.


Tenders for the projects have yet to open.


Ms Bligh said The University of Queensland, along with other research institutions, see the approach by the US Navy as an opportunity to attract significant investment into their existing strategic biofuels research relationships with leading multi-national companies in particular Amyris and Solazyme.


“Last year the Queensland Government provided $2 million in innovation funding to the University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).


“This funding was invested in research around aviation biofuel production using a variety of sources, including sugarcane juice and bagasse, oilseed trees such as Pongamia, and algae.


"Boeing and leading US renewable products company Amyris Biotechnologies have provided significant financial support towards the project.Strategic partnerships such as these will be a focus of our economic strategy for this industry."


Ms Bligh also released  a bio-based industrials development policy statement for the state.


“This policy will help to position Queensland to capitalise on this worldwide trend. In simple terms, resources ranging from specialty crops, grasses, trees and marine algae, to household, industrial and agricultural waste, have the potential to be converted into products such as fuels, plastics, paper and chemicals.  These advanced processing technologies have the potential to revolutionise how we fuel our transport, produce energy, and manufacture products," she said.


Ms Bligh said the bio-industries sector was currently dominated by the US, Europe and Brazil but the Queensland Government had already invested significantly in developing bio-industries.


“For example, we provided $3.1 million to establish the Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant which opened in 2010.


“America’s Clemson University and The University of Queensland, this week signed a research agreement that will pursue public and private sector funding to advance biofuel research, commercialisation and large-scale biofuel production projects,’’ Ms Bligh said.


“Bio-based industrial products have the potential to reduce our state’s dependency on imported oil increasing the State’s energy security as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions."