Whyalla fuel company Muradel enters administration

[Australia] A regional energy start-up, which attracted millions from the Federal Government and was supported by local and interstate universities in its quest to develop a new industry creating hundreds of jobs, has been placed in voluntary administration.

Whyalla-based Muradel, which described itself as an advanced bio-crude oil production company, is now under the control of BDO’s Andrew Fielding and Nicholas Martin.

A spokeswoman for the administrators said the appointment was effective from April 3.

“The business was not trading at the time of our appointment. BDO are exploring a sale of the company’s assets and/or shares,” she said.

The business, which employed 14 staff, was set up in 2010 by the University of Adelaide, Murdoch University and majority shareholder SQC Pty Ltd, which is solely funded by Aban Australia Pty Ltd (part of the Ausker Group of Companies).

A spokeswoman from the University of Adelaide said it is no longer a shareholder in Muradel and its staff have not been involved in the company since 2016.

Muradel had developed Green2Black, a proprietary way of producing biofuel from sustainable feedstock including tyres, biosolids and algae.

It had set up a $10.5 million demonstration plant in Whyalla in a bid to commercialise it, supported by a $4.5 million grant from the Federal Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency and more than $500,000 in state and council funds.

Close to four hectares of land was leased from the Whyalla council to house the demo plant which opened in 2014.

A full-scale production facility on a bigger piece of land was due to be operational this year, creating 100 new skilled and operational jobs.

The aspiring commercial biofuel producer had been focused on demonstrating it can produce biocrude oil from microalgae since 2011, first in WA and since 2013 in SA.

Subsequently Green2Black technology was being demonstrated using car tyres and biosolids from municipal waste streams as feedstock.

Costs were prohibitive – the WA pilot plant produced oil from micro-algae at about $9.90 a litre and the aim at Whyalla to reduce this to less than $1 a litre.

 

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