When the pyrethrum plant is processed for its natural insecticide (the chemical pyrethrin), the leftover parts of the plant are turned into briquettes, able to be burned as a biofuel.
Meat processor Greenham Tasmania is burning pyrethrum briquettes to power the main steam boiler at its Smithton export abattoir, accounting for up to 30 per cent of its energy demands. The transition involved a $1.3m investment and several years of refinement, but managing director Peter Greenham said the boilers in the Smithton abattoir were now fully powered by pyrethrum.
“It’s now making sure the boiler can handle to requirements. Because pyrethrum hasn’t got the oomph that coal did, we have to burn more pyrethrum than coal,” Mr Greenham said. “Branding was a large part of why we made the decision. Using coal briquettes was going against the marketing of the hydro and wind power energy in Tasmania.”
Mr Greenham said the processor had to troubleshoot a few teething issues with the transition from coal to pyrethrum. “With the coal there was not as much ash as there is with the pyrethrum,” he said. “The ash is the final product left over once the briquettes are burnt. We had to change a lot of the emissions tools to actually get the particulate out of the stack. We’ve been spending the last 12 months on that to try and get our emissions down when we do use pyrethrum. We’ve now got that under control.”
“We’ve got many producers that produce cattle for us and they also have a few paddocks of pyrethrum,” Mr Greenham said. “There is no waste: the head of the plants go to a good use, which is overseas for insecticides, and the by-product from that is going back into the energy we produce here.”
Botanical Resources Australia in Ulverstone produces natural insecticide active, pyrethrins, extracted from Australian grown pyrethrum (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium) daisies. The briquettes are made from pyrethrum marc enabling a growing secondary business.