The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has turned its attention to one of Australia’s other major carbon abatement tasks – transport emissions – with a $4 million investment by its Clean Energy Innovation Fund into cutting edge Australian carbon fibre container technology.
The award-winning technology, developed by Australian family company Omni Tanker, targets the bulk liquid transport equipment market, making portable tank containers for trucking and intermodal freight using carbon fibre composites that have six times the strength to weight of steel, but are more than 35 per cent lighter.
Compared to traditional rubber lined stainless steel tanks – which are dedicated to one product and usually carry goods in one direction only – Omni Tanker’s technology, invented and patented by the late Bill Rodgers, uses a thermoplastic corrosion barrier that offers strong chemical resistance and can easily be washed clean.
This means the tanks can transport a wide range of cargoes, including corrosive liquids and high purity chemicals, and can be two-way loaded, reducing asset down time and empty running, increasing the efficiency and capacity of transportation routes.
And of course all of this means that using these carbon fibre tanks to transport liquids requires less energy and produces fewer emissions.
“This investment is about supporting leading-edge innovation to tackle transport-related carbon emissions, which are a significant part of the greenhouse gas emissions challenge,” said Ben Gust, executive director of the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.
“It continues the strong focus of the Innovation Fund in supporting a diverse range of cleantech companies which are capitalising on new business opportunities emerging from our clean energy transition,” Gust said.
For the CEFC, the investment in Omni Tanker marks a the tenth transaction for its Clean Energy Innovation Fund – the $200 million finance arm operated in partnership with ARENA – which has now invested a total of $64 million.
The green bank said the $4 million would go towards a broader $7.9 million capital raising by the NSW-based company to help it scale up its manufacturing operations to supply ISO tanks internationally, to a global market the CEFC says is growing by more than 8 per cent a year.
“Under CEO Daniel Rodgers, Omni Tanker has developed a dominant market position for aggressive corrosive chemical tank haulage within Australia,” the CEFC statement said.
“With approvals now granted for its tanks to transport dangerous goods in the USA and Europe, the OmniTAINER is being exported globally.”
Omni Tank’s Rodgers said the CEFC-backed investment round would be used to underwrite a substantial expansion of the company’s NSW manufacturing plant, and to grow its specialist workforce, to enable a “major increase” in production capacity by 2020.
“We are also pursuing other avenues for the technology in collaboration with the University of New South Wales and other industry partners through initiatives including the UNSW centre for Automated Manufacture of Advanced Composites (AMAC) and the Australian Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC),” he said.
“Globally we are seeing significant growth in the tank container market, and transporters and operators are all seeking new ways to improve safety and drive profitability.
“Our proven technology is compelling for users of transport tanks and we are scaling our production capability to meet the global demand.”