UK’s bus powered by human waste hits roads

LONDON (TIP): UK’s first ever bus to run on human waste has finally hit the roads. The UK’s first ever bus powered on food and human waste was rolled out on Thursday which engineers believe could provide a sustainable way of fuelling public transport – cutting emissions in polluted towns and cities. The 40-seater Bio-Bus, which runs on gas generated through the treatment of sewage and food waste that’s unfit for human consumption, helps to improve urban air quality as it produces fewer emissions than traditional diesel engines.

Running on waste products that are both renewable and sustainable, the bus can travel up to 300 km on a full tank of gas generated at Bristol sewage treatment works – a plant run by GENeco, a subsidiary of Wessex Water. This week GENeco became the first company in the UK to start injecting gas generated from food waste and sewage into the national gas grid network and at the same time installed a gas refuelling plant for the bus. GENeco general manager Mohammed Saddiq said “Through treating sewage and food that’s unfit for human consumption we’re able to produce enough biomethane to provide a significant supply of gas to the national gas network that’s capable of powering almost 8,500 homes as well as fuelling the Bio-Bus.

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.” “Using biomethane in this way not only provides a sustainable fuel, but also reduces our reliance on traditional fossil fuels.” The Bio-Bus can travel up to 300km on a full tank of gas, which takes the annual waste of around five people to produce.

The first passengers to get on board the Bio-Bus were visitors to the UK who were commuting from Bristol Airport to the historic city of Bath. Bath Bus Company, which is operating the service, said the bus was greener for the environment. Bristol sewage treatment works treats around 75 million cubic metres of sewage waste and 35,000 tonnes of food waste, collected from households, supermarkets and food manufacturers, every year. Through a process, known as anaerobic digestion, 17 million cubic metres of biomethane is generated a year at the Bristol plant – the equivalent of meeting the power needs of 8,300 homes. A newly built state-of-the-art gas plant injects the gas into the grid.

Charlotte Morton, chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA), said “The bus also clearly shows that human poo and our waste food are valuable resources. Food which is unsuitable for human consumption should be separately collected and recycled through anaerobic digestion into green gas and biofertilizers, not wasted in landfill sites or incinerators”.

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