On Saturday 17th March Bioenergy CDT student, Judith Ford was at the ‘Be Curious’ University of Leeds research open day, which aimed to let families find out about the work of the university through a range of activities. Judith was on the bioenergy doctoral training centre stand which had the eye-catching title of ‘Poo, farts, burps and rubbish – energy from global waste’.
James McKay (Bioenergy CDT Manager) had used waste cardboard and paper cups to make Betty, a life size cow who was definitely the star of the show. The children who visited were able to feed grass to Betty, then put their hands inside the largest of her four stomachs to feel the digesting grass (actually a slimy mixture of lime jelly and grass) and finally make a cow pat out of chocolate-flavoured salt dough. The children all enjoyed getting messy while James, Judith, Aaron Brown and Jeni Spragg (both Bioenergy CDT students) described how the bacteria in the cows tummy make farts which contain methane gas that can be burned. We then explained that the same process can be used in an anaerobic digester to turn grass, poo and food waste into methane gas which can be used to generate electricity or for heating and cooking, instead of using coal, oil or natural gas.