Student solutions to global problems win development funds

29 Oct 2020

40 grams of this granulated seaweed in a cow’s daily diet can reduce its production of methane gas by 99 per cent”

An initiative that reduces methane gas produced from cows by adding seaweed to their diet is one of five ANU student projects to win funding from InnovationACT.

The projects will share in $50,000 to kick-start entrepreneurial ventures.

Brandon Hargraves is one of the students and the CEO of a start-up, Sway Aquaculture, which plans to tackle the issue of cattle producing 10 per cent of Australia's carbon emissions through farming methane-reducing seaweed in the Philippines.

"By adding just 40 grams of this granulated seaweed to a cow's daily diet, it can reduce the production of methane gas in that cow by 99 per cent," Mr Hargraves said.

"When a cow eats the seaweed, a chemical called bromoform is released which interacts with methane-producing bacteria in the stomach and prevents that methane being produced."

Mr Hargraves, is completing his double degree at ANU in Business Administration and International Relations. He said the Philippines already has a skilled workforce in the labour-intensive process of seaweed farming and harvesting.

"We decided to utilise the advantages of the good growing conditions in the Philippines and the skilled farmers, technicians and scientist on the one hectare farm we now have in Palawan, in the west of the country," Mr Hargraves said.  

The student team Stream is developing an app-based boarding system that will allow airlines to notify passengers via their personal devices when it is their turn to board, thus reducing the bottleneck at the boarding gates.

Marcus Simmonds, co-founder of Stream and studying Law and Science at ANU, said the current pandemic is perfect for this venture and it's the right time to be speaking with key players in the aviation industry.

"We want to streamline the airline boarding process for post-COVID travel, and we feel that our solution can help kick-start the aviation industry after COVID-19," Mr Simmonds said.

The other ANU student projects to receive funding are Sweet and Sour - a publication aimed at making Asian-Australians feel more represented in the community, Explorer - developing smart monitoring services to railway companies and Pet Pawfect, which provides flexible, low-cost pet training and health services.