A Magherafelt biodigestion expert, known affectionately as Dr Sludge, has been awarded the title of 2016 AD Hero of the Year.
The award was presented to Dr Les Gornall by the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association at the NEC in Birmingham.
Judges felt that Dr Gornall had contributed significantly to the anaerobic digestion industry since 1980 through detailed knowledge, enthusiasm and positive attitude, and has been a mentor to many of the new practitioners, ensuring a legacy for the future generations.
His office at CAPITA-PROjEN was also highly commended for its technical services.
Les is best known locally for his work designing a system for anaerobically (without air) digesting the cattle and poultry manure at Bethlehem Abbey in Portglenone in 1984.
This was a pioneering 200 cubic meter digester for 400 cattle and the biogas it made replaced oil and wood burning in boilers.
The organic fertiliser it made was sold commercially and used as the gateway to large scale organic farming. Since then Les has design and built the longest continuously operating digester in Ireland (18 years) in Waringstown and has designed and commissioned between one and three sludge and biogas plants a year.
A graduate of the University of Ulster and Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, he is now regarded as a world expert on the subject of biogas and anaerobic digestion.
Speaking of his delight at having been awarded the prestigious title from peers within the anaerobic digestion industry, Dr Gornall said: “I have tried to live by the Baha’i ideal that ‘Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it.’
“The award ceremony was overwhelming, and I am grateful to ADBA and all my friends in the AD Industry for their kind words and encouragement over the years - there are a lot of heroes in this industry.”