REVVED UP: Queensland Urban Utilities spokeswoman Michelle Cull and UQ Professor Peter Gresshoff are excited by a trial that uses sewage waste to irrigate 4000 pongamia trees. The oil from the trees' seeds can be converted into biodiesel to run cars.
REVVED UP: Queensland Urban Utilities spokeswoman Michelle Cull and UQ Professor Peter Gresshoff are excited by a trial that uses sewage waste to irrigate 4000 pongamia trees. The oil from the trees' seeds can be converted into biodiesel to run cars.

Could a pile of poo help run your car?

SEWAGE could be key to a healthier environment thanks to an Australian-first trial.

As part of a Queensland Urban Utilities trial to produce biodiesel, waste from sewage treatment plants in Boonah and Toogoolawah is being used to water a 4000-strong plantation of pongamia trees.

The trees are being planted as part of an Australian-first trial run by Queensland Urban Utilities.

QUU spokeswoman Michelle Cull said pongamia seeds were rich in oil that could be extracted and converted into biodiesel to run cars.

"We hope to harvest enough seeds to yield at least 12,000 litres of biodiesel every year - that's enough to run approximately 24 cars for a year," she said.

"The trees will be planted on four hectares of unused land around the sewage treatment plants and irrigated with treated wastewater."

 

Sewage is helping to irrigate 4000 pongamia trees. The oil from the tree can be used as biodiesel to run cars.
Sewage is helping to irrigate 4000 pongamia trees. The oil from the tree can be used as biodiesel to run cars.

University of Queensland professor Peter Gresshoff said biodiesel was better for the environment than fossil fuels because it was a sustainable source of energy that emitted less greenhouse gases.

"The advantage of growing this particular type of tree is that their seeds produce a higher quality and quantity of oil than other biodiesel crops," he said.

"This trial is an exciting advance from university-focused research to practical application."

Ms Cull said QUU was always looking for ways to become more sustainable and reduce operating costs.

"This is just the first step. In the next stage of the trial we'll be establishing a research facility where we'll test using wastewater to irrigate other crops," she said.

"It's all part of our renewable energy plan which aims to reduce our carbon footprint and keep costs down."


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