Galway-based GlasPort Bio has developed GasAbate which acts on the microorganisms that cause methane and other polluting gases when it is added periodically to stored slurry and manure.
The biotechnology company has now been awarded €2.5m in European Union funding to complete the product’s development to the point of market launch.
Trials have shown that use of the additive results in a near cessation of all gaseous emissions, not only massively cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) production from slurry and manure but making it more valuable as a fertiliser and renewable energy feedstock for Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plants.
In Europe, emissions from livestock manure and slurry account for approximately 15.5% of all GHG emissions from the agricultural sector, or 1.5% of all European emissions. GHGs are produced by microorganisms in these animal wastes, depleting the nitrogen and carbon content of the material and making it a weaker fertiliser and renewable energy resource. This results in a need for more chemical fertiliser to be applied to farmland and for AD plants to purchase so-called energy crops to co-digest alongside slurry.
Ruairi Friel, CEO of GlasPort Bio, says GasAbate uniquely solves this problem with independent tests showing that its use results in farmers purchasing approximately 30% less mineral fertiliser, the biogas output from AD increasing by almost 40% and GHG emissions reducing by more than 98%, he says. The product does not require any specialist equipment or disruption of existing work flows on farm or on the AD plant.
Dr Friel describes winning the €2.5m European Commission grant under the EIC Accelerator program as a “great boost’’ for the company. “This is a highly competitive funding source, with the award acting as a major validation of the company and our product,’’ he says. The funding will allow large-scale testing to take place on commercial sites and the scaling up of the product for market launch. “We are extremely excited about the results we have seen in testing to date and the potential this product can have,’’ says Dr Friel. “Through use of GasAbate, farmers can make large savings on mineral fertiliser costs, AD plants can see greater productivity and profitability from use of GasAbate, while society will benefit from reduced GHG emissions.’’
Dr Friel says he expects the technology to have a major impact globally since fertiliser manufacturers, livestock producers and food and dairy companies are under pressure to be more sustainable and to deliver produce with a lower carbon footprint. Solutions are also needed to generate carbon credits to offset emissions across the entire production chain, he adds.
We are, after all, the greatest problem solvers to have ever existed on Earth. If working apart, we are a force powerful enough to destabilize our planet. Surely working together, we are powerful enough to save it.
Veteran British broadcaster and documentary maker David Attenborough.
The [GasAbate] innovation is disruptive and would be a game-changing technology. The impact for the environment is significant and it would put Europe worldwide on the leading edge
European Commission, EIC Review panel
The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win.
António Guterres - Remarks at 2019 Climate Action Summit
Cutting methane is the strongest lever we have to slow climate change over the next 25 years
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Programme