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Peter Schnurr, BSc'10

London Free Press | March 18, 2010

peter schnurr
TD Friends of the Environment Go Green Challenge Recipient

An idea to turn compost and human sludge into green energy, organic fertilizer and cleaner water has won two Western University students a large prize from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.

Hilary Booth and Peter Schnurr said ideas for "growing" biofuels are becoming more popular -- and theirs could help generate energy while easing landfill space and adding nutrients to farmland.

The pair -- she's a student in comparative physiology and he's in his graduating year of environmental science -- is one of four teams chosen as winners of the bank foundation's Go Green challenge for Canadian university and college students. Each winning team gets $25,000.

This year's competition drew 120 proposals from 45 teams, said Yvette Scrivener, regional manager of the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.

"What it signifies to us is that there's an abundance of green ideas percolating through the country," she said Wednesday.

The UWO students' proposal entails diverting waste from landfill sites and sewage from incinerators and treatment plants. They outline ways to use anaerobic digestion -- micro-organisms release energy as they break down organic materials -- to generate renewable biofuel from compost and human waste. The nutrient-rich, clean, digested material then becomes fertilizer for farm fields.

They acknowledged there would be a big startup cost, but long-term job creation, and less reliance on fossil fuels, would more than offset the expense. "It's our aspiration that we can actually see this implemented in our world," Booth said.

Booth said TD is innovative in helping students put forward ideas they've already researched, and giving them a broader audience with access to the technology and money that could implement them.

Read the complete story: London Free Press


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