Written By:  David Jones

The next stop for a sustainable future has finally launched with the UK’s first poo-fueled bus. This is an exciting new beginning to providing a cheaper and cleaner way for out transit needs. On November 20th, the UK’s first ever bus, powered on human and food waste began operation on the road. This fuel for public transport will cut emissions in polluted towns and cities. It will also set the example for all other nations to follow, with the common goal of having a healthier environment for all.

The bus is being run by Biomethane. This is a naturally occurring gas which is produced by the so-called aneorbic digestion of organic matter such as dead animal and plant material, manure, sewage, organic waste, etc. It is chemically identical to natural gas which is stored deep in the ground and is also produced from deal animal and plant material. Natural gas is classified as fossil fuel, whereas biomethane is defined as a green source of energy. Biomethane is produced from “fresh” organic matter which makes a renewable source of energy that can be produced worldwide. Its production also eliminates the release of a great deal of methane and other harmful gases. Since biomethane and natural gas are chemically identical, it can be used for the same applications which are electricity generation, water heating, space heating, cooking, and of course, to fuel vehicles.

The bus that went into operation today is a 40-seater Bio-Bus, which runs on gas, generated through the treatment of sewage and food waste that’s unfit for human consumption, thus improving urban air quality by producing fewer emissions than the traditional diesel engines. This bus runs on waste products that are both renewable and sustainable, it can travel up to 300km 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 installed a gas refueling plant for the bus at the same time.

General Manager for GENeco 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 fueling the Bio-Bus.” “Gas powered vehicles have an important role to play in improving air quality in U.K. 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.”

The first passengers to ride the bus today were visitors to the UK who were commuting from Bristol Airport to the historic city of Bath. This could not be a more perfect time for the UK to launch this bus as we approach 2015 when the city of Bristol becomes a European Green Capital. 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. The Bus clearly shows that human poo and our waste food are valuable resources. It will help demonstrate the true value of separate food waste collections, which are now obligatory in all other regions, to the English government.

Biomethane is now proving to be a great potential as an alternative source of energy, especially to fossil fuels. Its uses have been known for quite some time, but production started only in the recent years as a result of the rising prices of natural gas and high electricity prices. Definitely a bonus with the threat of global climate change.