The future of sustainable public transport could come through fueling buses with gas made from two of the things that we seem to have a lot of, human waste and food waste.
In what is a first for the country, the "Bio-Bus", a 40-seat bus that uses biomethane as its fuel, is now operating in the UK, and could be a harbinger of a greener, more sustainable, public transport system.
The biomethane that fuels the Bio-Bus is generated from sewage and food waste (waste which is unfit for human consumption), and because the bus' engine produces lower emissions while burning biomethane than conventional diesel does, it could not only help improve air quality, but also help to prove the case for more waste-to-fuel projects.
"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 biofertilisers, not wasted in landfill sites or incinerators." - Charlotte Morton, chief executive of Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association
The biomethane is being generated by GENeco through anaerobic digestion at the Bristol sewage treatment works, and in addition to fueling this bus, is also being added to the UK's national gas grid at a volume capable of powering around 8500 homes. The treatment plant handles about 75 million cubic meters of sewage and 35,000 metric tons of food waste each year, effectively turning local waste into local fuel.
On a full tank of this bio-gas (equivalent to the annual waste of 5 people), the Bio-Bus has a range of up to 300km,
and is currently being operated by the Bath Bus Company on the A4.