TWO enterprising Catholic sixthformers have won an award for designing and building a giant outdoor "digester" which converts human sewage into energy.
Nicola Hampshire, 18, and Melanie Malin, 17, both from St Augustine's Catholic High School in Redditch, Worcestershire, have spent over 100 hours devising, planning and executing an experiment in 'bio-gas generation" the converting of manure into power for heating and lighting.
And this week the duo were celebrating the award of a coveted gold award by CREST, a national schools organisation which encourages careers in science and technology.
The pair took over a five-acre paddock belonging to Nicola's pet pony, Jay, to construct the "digester" using buckets, tubes, glass jars and a stirring mechanism.
"We used ten gallons of 'activated sludge' donated by Severn and Trent Water, treated it with the necessary bacteria, warmed it to get the bacteria going, and produced methane as a sideproduct," explained farmer's daughter Nicola. "My pony Jay also provided some of the raw material," she revealed.
Nicola, who is a keen member of the local Young Farmers Club, said they had taken "a lot of stick" from fellow schoolmates over the project, "but it was great fun".