BRI interviewed Dr. Jason Shih, BRI Co-founder and Senior Advisor, about what he is most proud of and how he plans to spend his retirement.
Prof. Shih retired from the Department of Poultry Science at NC State University in 2009 and he and his wife spend part of the year in Asia and the rest of their time traveling around the world and spending time with their grandson in North Carolina. Jason is a winner of the World’s Poultry Science Association Research Award and the Evonik Degussa Award for Achievement in Poultry Science
This week Prof. Shih talks about his international research experiences and his plans to raise awareness of biogas in his retirement years.
BRI: Throughout your career you have been visiting professor for several foreign universities. This let you build bridges with Asia and Europe. What do you feel most proud of from your international work?
Jason: I feel very proud of having been able to enhance the biogas technology in China, something they have already been using for hundreds of years, and opening the eyes of US academics to this source of sustainable energy. In the early 80s, I visited a small town in rural China that was using the energy and byproducts produced by a digester to cook their food, grow fish, and fertilize soil, something unseen in the West.
I was able to use my research at NC State to introduce the themophillic digester technology to increase productivity significantly while reducing the size of the digester from a basketball-court-sized one to a ping-pong-table-sized one. While in Europe, I compared my Thermophilic digester technology with the Mesophilic technology, demonstrating increased energy production and 100% elimination of pathogens, which opened the eyes of the farming community not only on energy production, but also on safety for the workers and the environment.
Also, in the Netherlands, I proved the use of my keratinase, the accidental enzyme I discovered in a digester, to degrade Prion proteins that are associated with mad cow disease. In the beginning my colleagues were quite skeptical, but in the end they said “you’re very lucky” for all the uses we were able to develop from my discovery of the keratinase.
BRI: What are your plans as you enter your retirement years?
Jason: To continue to help BRI grow and to be an ambassador for biogas. I want to make biogas energy economical and more popular. I have been invited to participate in a project in China to build a big digester to create a “biogas town”. This will be a pilot for 20 other similar cities to come. It will collect all sources of human and animal waste to produce energy and run cars. It will have pipelines throughout the entire city and biogas stations instead of fuel stations, and the public transportation will also run on biogas.