Marty McFly and Doc Brown are here but what’s that in their DeLorean’s fuel tank?!

For all the filmophiles, October was an important month as Marty McFly and Doc Brown arrived to future, on 21 October 2015. But what is that fuel they used?

UntitledDoc Brown uses food scraps, banana peels and leftover beer to fuel his legendary DeLorean. We all know biowaste from households and from municipal solid waste in general releases immense amounts of methane, a gas 23 times more harmful to environment than carbon-dioxide. Therefore, organic waste, has a big potential when it comes to biogas and biomethane production. Once you add food and beverage industry waste streams to it, the potential increases even more, followed by a range of economic and environmental benefits.

There are many things the film predicted for 21 October 2015, but we don’t see any hoover boards or self-tying shoes around, yet. But what we do see are fleets of vehicles, buses and lorries fueled by biomethane. For instance, nearly 100% of the biomethane produced in Sweden and Italy are used for transportation and the two countries together produced nearly 10.5 m3 of biomethane in 2013. Most of Sweden’s biomethane actually comes from biowaste and sewage sludge (if Doc Brown only knew …). A number of European cities use their own waste for biogas and biomethane production, fueling their public transportation by renewable gas. Lille in France, Uppsala in Sweden and Bristol in the UK are just some of them. The Carrefour company, a major distributor and retailer announced 200 new trucks in France powered by biomethane.

Had we followed Doc’s ideas and prototypes back in 1989, we could have even reached a carbon neutral transportation sector by now, knowing that the emissions from biomethane produced from biowaste and sewage sludge are not only much lower than fossil fuels, but even negative. This comes from the fact that such biomethane has negative greenhouse gas emissions compared to any other biofuels, electric, hybrid and not mentioning – fossil fuel powered vehicles. The negative emissions come from another fact that producing biomethane from biowaste and sewage sludge, including manure, actually prevents uncontrolled methane emissions into atmosphere and captures the gas that is later used for fuel. Once combusted, no methane is released. But it’s never too late for carbon neutral transportation!

In the end, if you look at the video below, you will see that Doc indeed wasn’t too far from what we do today. We are just wondering where does the digestate go? But that’s already another story … or a sequel.

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