16/01/2007 - 22:00

R&D grants provide energy boost

16/01/2007 - 22:00

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A host of Western Australian companies received almost $32 million in federal government AusIndustry Commercial Ready grants last year, representing around 19 per cent of total approvals nationwide.

R&D grants provide energy boost

A host of Western Australian companies received almost $32 million in federal government AusIndustry Commercial Ready grants last year, representing around 19 per cent of total approvals nationwide.

The 22 WA recipients of these grants are indicative of the heightened focus on the provision of grants for research into and development of renewable energy technologies under the Australian Government’s Renewable Energy Development Initiative.

Brockway DiCOM Facility Pty Ltd, an entity of Bentley-based Anaeco Ltd, formerly Organic Resource Technologies Ltd, is the latest WA-based company to secure a sizeable grant, $2.7 million, under the REDI program.

Anaeco managing director Thomas Rudas told WA Business News the money would be used to develop a demonstration waste recycling plant using the DiCOM technology for the Western Metropolitan Regional Council, which handles waste management for Perth’s western suburbs councils.

“It has been a fairly long road to getting to construction phase,” he said. “We really want to construct stage one by the end of this year, operate it for a period of time and then, if it is effective, look towards getting stage two up and running by the second half of next year.”

The DiCOM technology, invented by Mr Rudas, increases the diversion of organic waste from landfill and produce renewable energy and agricultural grade compost.

WMRC, one of Perth’s regional waste management groups and comprising Mosman Park, Cottesloe, Claremont, Peppermint Grove and Subiaco councils, entered an agreement with Anaeco that enables, upon successful commissioning to pre-agreed performance criteria, the expansion of the stage one plant.

“WMRC have been very patient and have been waiting for this project for the last three years,” Mr Rudas said. “If we received financial support earlier then this project would have been up and running earlier.”

He said the plant would be geared towards production of one megawatt of renewable energy from municipal solid waste, which includes garbage, refuse, and other solid waste from residential, commercial, industrial and community activities.

The company recently signed an alliance agreement with Perpetual Investment Management Ltd and Perpetual Trust Services Ltd, with the agreement involving an initial five-year period of exclusivity between the two for joint development of DiCOM projects in Australia.

A number of Commercial Ready grants of more than $1 million were awarded to WA companies during 2006, with the largest grant of $3.85 million awarded to private company Lignor Pty Ltd.

The funding will help fund construction of an engineered strand lumber plant at Albany costing more than $200 million.

East Perth-based Alkane Exploration ($3.3 million grant) and Bassendean-based Hofmann Engineering ($3.2 million) were rare examples of Commercial Ready grant winners, with mining companies, such as Alkane, and profitable established businesses, such as Hofmann, rarely receiving grant funding.

CLVR Pty Ltd received $2.3 million to develop a laser system for corneal reflective surgery, retinal photocoagulation and other laser-based eye treatments, while ShieldLiner Ltd received $1.3 million for its product to line, repair and seal both gravity and pressure pipelines.

Welshpool-based Advanced Nanotechnology Ltd received a $1.95 million Commercial Ready grant for the development of a new range of nanotechnology products known as transparent functional coatings and films.

Advanced chief executive Paul McCormick said the funding provided assistance with early stage commercialisation of a new water-based zinc oxide additive for low volatile organic compounds paints.

The most recent grant above $1 million was the $1.02 million received by Sensear, a Perth-based developer of a noise filtering technology.

WA companies also received some of the smaller grants. WA Composts Pty Ltd, for example, received $361,400 to validate the application process and benefits of applying pelletised compost to cropping systems across Australia.

AusIndustry, the program delivery division of the Australian Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, uses several criteria to determine a company’s ability to receive grant funding, including its management capability, technical and commercial merit.

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