Together with three local businesses, Tobermore has established a collaborative cluster to transform excess livestock manure and grass silage into biomethane which can be used as fuel.
The partnership between Tobermore, Dale Farm, CemCor and Road Safety Contracts Group was enabled by the Centre for Advanced Sustainable Energy (CASE) at Queen’s University Belfast.
It is estimated that Northern Ireland has three million cows, sheep and pigs producing nine million tonnes of manure. This manure contains phosphorous and ammonia. Phosphorous when in excess on agricultural land damages soil and water ecosystems through eutrophication. Ammonia is a greenhouse gas that damages the atmosphere if not recovered effectively.
Using an anaerobic digestor, biomethane gas can be extracted from livestock manure, additionally, nutrients can be recovered and used for fertiliser.
Using farm waste in this way can play a role in decarbonisation while demonstrating a great example of the circular economy in action. For Tobermore, the innovative ‘waste-to-watts’ approach could lead to decarbonised fuel for vehicles and lower carbon paving, walling and kerb products.
The vision of the Mid Ulster companies is ultimately to establish a full-scale plant that will produce enough biomethane, not just for their own use, but also for injection into the NI gas grid.
David Henderson, managing director and owner of Tobermore commented: “Tobermore is delighted to be involved in this exciting ESG project. By utilising agricultural manures and grass silage, we have the potential to use biomethane fuel in our forklifts and lorries. We hope to significantly reduce our need for fossil fuels and hasten our journey towards net zero.”
Dr Paul Madden from the Centre for Competitiveness described the project as “an excellent example of local place-based innovation supporting COP27 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals”.