For years we’ve known that human waste can be made into fuel, but it’s not until more recently that the practical applications have started to pop up. Specifically, in Britain they have introduced the first of its kind bio-bus that’s fuelled by – yes, you guessed it – human waste.
The bus service will run between Bristol airport and Bath, which carries 10,000 passengers each month.
The bio-bus is completely powered by treated sewage and food waste that has been converted into biomethene gas, which is produced when human waste products are treated through a process called anaerobic digestion. Once the methane-rich gas is produced, it is “upgraded” by removing the carbon dioxide and adding propane.
The vehicle has the capacity to travel up to 300 kilometers (approx. 186 miles) on a single tank of gas – that’s the equivalent of the waste produced by five people’s annually.
The green-gas is being produced by a Wessex-based water sewage plant run by energy firm GENeco.
The director of GENeco, Mohammed Saddiq, said that gas powered vehicles:
“have an important role to play in improving air quality in UK cities. But the Bio-Bus goes further than that and is actually powered by people living in the local area, including quite possibly those on the bus itself.”
And yet more positive news: The engine that the bio-bus uses is a similar size to that of other regional buses, making it an easy transition for other buses to become more eco-friendly, but it also emits 30% less carbon dioxide!
I bet you’re thinking that this all sounds great, but nobody wants to be sitting in a smelly bus for hours. Well, you don’t have to worry about that either. Through the waste’s treatment, the impurities that normally would cause the odor are removed, meaning that you’ll have a pleasant enough journey… Depending on your seat neighbour, of course.
Charlotte Morton, CEO of the eco-friendly Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association stated that:
“The bus also clearly shows that human poo and our wasted food are valuable resources. Food which is unsuitable for human consumption should be separately collected and recycled through anaerobic digestion into green gas and biofertilisers, not wasted in landfill sites or incinerators.”
And it seems that this isn’t the first news of biomethane gas being used in the UK. The development of the new bio-bus came after another UK power company, Severn Trent Water, claimed in October that it had developed the first biomethane gas to the National Grid.
Bath Bus Company’s own Collin Field, stated that:
“With so much attention being directed towards improving air quality generally, the public reaction to the appearance of this bus on a service between a world heritage city and an airport will further focus on the potential for this particular fuel.”
To top it all off, Bristol is set to become the European Green Capital in 2015, and tourists and visitors to the West of the UK won’t be disappointed as the country keeps pushing towards a more eco-friendly culture.