Growing mussels, shedding carbon fetch money

Staff Reporter –

A group of students from the University of Auckland won the acclaim of ‘Foundation North,’ an Auckland based organisation that helps communities for its innovative idea of enabling people to mussel beds in the Hauraki Gulf and livestreaming the beds to sponsors so they can watch their mussels grow.

Another group of students received accolades from the Yealands Family Wines, which sought ideas for sustainably disposing of the 3% of the posts that break in their vineyards every year.

Fonterra invited sustainable packaging ideas. Teach First New Zealand invited ideas for building their brand awareness to eligible students.

Solve It Challenge

Twenty teams of students entered the ‘Solve It Challenge,’ run by the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the University of Auckland Business School.

They were divided into five teams to tackle each problem.

The first and second placed winners received respectively $5000 per team and $3000 per team.

“Livestreams are an engaging and popular way for people to stay in touch with nature,” Tiger Chen, a Bachelor of Commerce student, said.

Carbon-Negative Winery

The winning team for Yealands Family claimed that its idea could make the vineyard, already a pioneer in innovation and sustainability, the first carbon-negative winery in the world.

It involves converting broken vineyard posts into a biofuel called biochar through a process known as pyrolysis. Biochar – charcoal from agricultural waste – acts as a carbon sink, removing carbon emissions, as well as improving soil quality to increase productivity.
Team member Ray Cai, who is pursuing his Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering, said that the students sought advice from University of Auckland Professor Ajit Sarmah who has extensive experience in the field of turning biomass into biofuel, and holds related intellectual property.

“We hope to establish a small-scale pyrolysis plant on Yealands,” he said.

Fonterra chose as winners a proposal to make 100% biodegradable boxes lined with wool for transporting dairy products.

Photo Caption:

The winning team picked by Yealands Family

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