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Fuel Security:

Bennett Clayton submission to the Standing Committee of Primary Industries and Resources.

4.15 Another approach to optimising alternative energy opportunities is the conversion of diesel engines to run on alternative fuels. Bennett Clayton Pty Ltd is an engine technology company that specialises in converting diesel engines into alternative fuels including LPG, LNG and bio-alcohols (methanol and ethanol). In its submission to the Committee, Bennett Clayton outlined a current project and some of the benefits:

Bennett Clayton is currently working with farmers in the Riverina to develop alternatives to diesel engines used by rice farmers to pump water from deep bores. Bennett Clayton has invested significant R&D in developing a conversion for a commonly used engine (John Deere 6068) from diesel to LPG.

In the first instance LPG was chosen as a locally available fuel, and the technology has been structured for easy local manufacture. The converted engines are essentially ready to operate on renewable fuels (methanol or ethanol) that could in future be produced locally from local farm products (lignocellulose).[15]

The converted engines have been very successful, reducing the cost of operating the pumps from $51 per megalitre of water pumped to $38 per megalitre of water pumped (on current fuel prices). The engines have also shown emissions reductions of up to 94% (particulates and NOx).[16]

These changes can have a very significant impact in the farm irrigation sector, both by offering farmers greater efficiency, and by reducing emissions. As the engines are essentially ready for renewable bio-alcohols, farmers could transition to an on-farm produced bio-alcohol (e.g. methanol) fuel as soon as production technology, currently in development, becomes available…

These alternative fuel engines have demonstrated reliability, having operated in the field for thousands of hours. They exhibit extremely low emissions, and reduced CO2 production. They are more economical than diesels, both in fuel cost, and in maintenance…

However, the take up of these engines in the market is hampered by the distortion created by the Commonwealth diesel fuel rebate. Farmers enjoy a Commonwealth Government rebate of about 38c per litre for diesel fuel used on the farm.[17]