The $5 million photobioreactor at West Beach is the first of its kind in the Southern hemisphere.

Premier Mike Rann today opened the new national facility at the SA Research and Development Institute.

“The race is on all over the world to find a way to produce biofuel from the clean and renewable resource of microalgae in a commercially viable way,” Premier Rann said.

“It is seen to have significant potential as a fuel of the future.”

Mr Rann said the research facility would be available to scientists from all over Australia and around the world under the National Collaborative Research and Infrastructure Strategy.

If just 10 per cent of Australia’s mineral diesel was replaced with biodiesel from microalgae, it would save nearly four million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

SARDI aquatic sciences chief Professor Rob Thomas said the next major challenge was to reduce the cost of production.

“We have already been successful at finding suitable species of microalgae for biofuel production,” he said.

“We now have to work out how to produce it commercially.”