SQC Pty Ltd is a South Australian based technology development Company that was registered ten years ago by Dr John Baxter of Port Lincoln. The Company’s name was derived from the phrase “sequestration of carbon”.
The overall mission of SQC is to develop solutions and commercial applications of innovative technologies involving micro algae. The R&D objectives are to propagate, harvest, and to process microalgae biomass into renewable hydrocarbon products; especially fuels. It is the first Australian owned Company to be engaged in this endeavour.
The Company has an experienced, multi-skilled Board of Directors (details over), and has the additional support of a specialist advisory group made up of South Australian based scientific and technical experts.
Its small and dedicated staff team includes an experienced Chemical Engineer, a Research Scientist (microbiologist) and a qualified Laboratory Technician.
Early work focused on identifying options and strategies for subsequent development. In 2004 SQC was awarded funding by the Rural Research and Development Corporation for basic research work into microalgae at Flinders University. This was followed in 2007 by a significant R&D program, funded jointly by SQC and an Australian Industry’s Renewable Energy Development Initiative (REDI) grant. This also entailed the funding of a 3 year research programme at Flinders University with integrated linkages to R&D work at the Company’s own purpose-built development Laboratory in the Port Lincoln area of South Australia.
This facility includes a climate controlled unit where algae bioreactors are being used grow and study selected algae strains. Current plans are to extend the R&D work to small scale field trials of open-pond algae systems.
SQC has developed valuable relationships with numerous other South Australian organizations involved in this field, and with several interstate and international groups. Through the agency of its major funding partner, SQC has a collaborative arrangement with the University of Chennai (India) which has a team of researchers working in parallel, and who interchange information with SQC on a regular basis.
Strategies and Challenges Ahead
SQC’s strategy and focus has targeted the development of low cost, robust, practical systems. The Company has not set out to compete with the current array of alternative algae fuel technologies that involve high cost closed bioreactor systems.
There is very significant potential to establish a new rural industry based on sustainable Gen-3 biofuels. SQC recognizes that there is urgent need for offsetting the ongoing demand for fossil based hydrocarbon sources for transport fuels with carbon neutral alternatives. The challenge is to move forward from biofuels production derived from materials required in the food chain and taking over viable land required for agriculture.
However, further development is required in all sectors, i.e. algae growth, recovery and processing; all in the context of producing economically optimal technology solutions, and the production of marketable end products. SQC believes that there is a high priority for Australia to develop alternatives for liquid fuels supply as global conditions put pressure on conventional sources and as demand inevitably increases. More research is still required.
SQC is in a unique position, as a commercial entity, to bring together resources from Government, research organisations, and the private sector to accelerate progress and position South Australia in the forefront of an industry with the potential to revolutionise the energy sector, world-wide.
It is noted that SQC has to date invested well over $1 M in establishment, development work and funded R&D.