Advanced Water Management Centre

Pig poo power wins innovation award for University of Queensland researcher

Friday, 10 March 2017
  • photo courtesy of Steve Keough Photography 2017

Australian farmers could soon be using pig poo to power their vehicles.

The University of Queensland's Dr Stephan Tait was awarded the Australian Pork Limited Award at the Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for his work on biogas uses on pig farms.

Dr Tait, from UQ’s Advanced Water Management Centre, said that pork farmers are currently only able to use about half the energy they are producing from the biogas.

Biogas, mainly composed of methane, is produced from raw materials in agricultural waste such as manure and can be used as an alternative fuel supply.

“There is quite a bit of excess biogas being produced from the waste at these farms,” he said.

“We are trying to find ways for the farmers to use that extra fifty percent on other things.”

Award winners have been granted funding to undertake a project on an emerging scientific issue or innovative activity over the next twelve months.

Dr Tait will study the methods used on farms in Europe, where biogas is used to its full potential to power vehicles.

“We are targeting a simple and cost effective system that a farmer can use in Australia.

“I hope to bring new technology back to Australia, so the farmers can use all their biogas instead of purchasing fuel,” he said.

“This will help make their business more profitable and more sustainable.”

Dr Tait’s work builds extensively off prior research on biogas in a collaboration between UQ, the Pork CRC, and Australian Pork Limited.

The Awards aim to encourage science, innovation and technology in rural industries and help to advance the careers of young scientists and innovators through national recognition of their research ideas.