Dalby Bio-Refinery Ltd (DBRL) is Australia’s first grain-to-ethanol facility. First commissioned in 2008, DBRL is one of the largest consumers of sorghum in the Darling Downs region. The grain is converted into fuel-grade ethanol and a high value animal feed products called wet distillers grains (also known as wet cake) and syrup. DBRL produces 76 million litres of ethanol each year, which is shipped across the country and blended with petrol (10% ethanol and 90% ULP) to form a cleaner burning fuel for Australia’s consumers.
The ethanol production process begins with the receipt of sorghum grain which is then ground into a fine powder. The powder is mixed with water and enzymes to begin the process of breaking down the starch into glucose molecules. Once the starch has been converted, yeast is introduced into the process. In an anaerobic environment, yeast ferment (i.e. metabolize) glucose into ethanol. The ethanol is then distilled from the fermentation broth, called beer, and is purified into nearly 100% pure ethanol. The final product is then denatured with 1.5% ULP and is then shipped to petrol blending stations. The remaining product once the ethanol has been distilled away is called stillage. The stillage is dehydrated down to a moisture content of approximately 32% which forms a high protein, high energy animal feed which is sold to nearby beef and dairy feedlots.
DBRL converts nearly 200,000 metric tonnes of sorghum into 76 million litres and 180,000 tonnes of wet cake each annum, and employs approximately 50 people.
United Petroleum purchased Dalby Bio-Refinery Ltd in October 2011.