Not only can it get you loaded it can power you all the way to Margaritaville

IT HAS powered many a wild night and now it might power your car. Researchers in south-east Queensland are hoping the plant that fuels tequila madness can fuel internal combustion engines as well.

Agave tequilana, used to make the potent spirit, is one of the most water-efficient plants in the world and has the potential to create ethanol, Central Queensland University’s Professor Nanjappa Ashwath said.

Professor Ashwath has agreed to help tequila researchers Don Chambers and Simon Watson, of Energy Enterprises Australia, in their plan to establish field trials to assess the succulent plant’s potential to serve as an alternative raw material for ethanol production units located around sugar mills.

Farmers near Childers are growing the agave for the trials.

“In Queensland the sugar mills run six months of the year,” Professor Ashwath said. “The remaining six months they sit idle, doing nothing.

“If we can grow the agave and supply that to the sugar mills, then we can maximise the use of the existing infrastructure at the same time as we produce alternative products.”

Mr Watson said the project involved the CSIRO, James Cook University, Energy Enterprises Australia and Ausagave.

He said research indicated agave could yield 16,000 litres of ethanol per hectare annually, compared with 10,000 litres for sugar cane.

“We believe Agave shows real promise here in Australia as both a second-generation biofuel, and an opportunity for Australian farmers in the face of global climate change,” Mr Watson said.

Unlike other sources of ethanol, such as corn, agave would not deplete existing food production or push up world food prices, he said.

Professor Ashwath said it would take about three years to prove the concept, but he was confident of its future, depending on fuel price movements.