Green Innovation Winners

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Congratulations Empire Vale Primary School, winner of the inaugural Northern Rivers Green Innovation Awards - Primary School category.

Learning how to turn sugar cane into biofuel in primary school is one thing, but running the school's lawnmower with biofuel is quite another.

Yesterday, Empire Vale Public School raised the bar in innovation and sustainability by taking out the Northern Rivers Green Innovation Awards primary school category. The entry that got them over the line was creating an ethanol-based biofuel made from sugar cane to run a lawnmower, with the vision to run cane trucks on sugar-based biofuel in the future.

Politicians, industry leaders, and scientists gathered at Trinity Catholic College for the first Green Innovation Awards where presentations were made by finalists from St Ambrose Primary School Pottsville, Mullumbimby Public School, Wyrallah Road Public School, Empire Vale Public School, Trinity and Woodlawn.

Recognising innovation, team work, business planning and environmental science, the awards aimed to encourage students to innovate in a 'green' way and to carry this passion throughout their lives.

Empire Vale Public School teacher Karen Rantissi said the school was determined to utilise the sugar cane surrounding the school for their entry.

"After visiting the local Sunshine Sugar's Broadwater Mill the kids from our senior class, myself and a local cane farmer and scientist Mick O'Connor created the biofuel out of glucose, water, a activated yeast and sugar cane,” she said.

"We let it ferment until it became an ethanol ... and the fuel was good enough to run the school's lawn mower, which is amazing considering we are working with nine, ten and eleven year-olds.”

Following their achievement, Ms Rantissi said the school would continue to work with Sunshine Sugar to inspire each other with what they could come up with next.

It's really exciting,” she said.

"We are a little school of about 30 kids and for them to have the opportunity to work with local industry and help to find a solution to an environmental problem is really great.

"From yesterday's achievement we've been asked to present our findings at the next Cane Growers Association meeting later in Wardell.” Northern Star: Francis Witsenhuysen

Watch their project video here:

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