UK: UK’s first ‘poo bus’ hits the road

Britain’s first ‘Bio-Bus’ powered entirely by human and food waste takes to the streets between Bath and Bristol. The 40-seat “Bio-Bus” runs on biomethane, generated through the treatment of sewage and food waste.

It can travel up to 186 miles on one tank of gas, which takes the annual waste of around five people to produce. The bus is run by Bath Bus Company and will transport passengers between Bath and Bristol Airport.

Engineers believe the bus could provide a sustainable way of fuelling public transport while improving urban air quality. The gas is generated at Bristol sewage treatment works, run by GENeco, a subsidiary of Wessex Water. It produces fewer emissions than traditional diesel engines and is both renewable and sustainable. That week, the company also became the first in the UK to inject gas generated from human and food waste into the national gas grid network.

Mohammed Saddiq, general manager of GENeco, 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.”

Bath Bus Company will use the Bio-Bus for its rapidly growing A4 service from Bath to Bristol Airport via South Bristol. Collin Field, engineering director at Bath Bus Company, said: “Up to 10,000 passengers are expected to travel on the A4 service in a month, which is available not only for airport travel, but also local journeys along the route through Saltford, Keynsham, Brislington, Knowle and Hengrove.

Bristol sewage treatment works processes around 75m cubic metres of sewage waste and 35,000 tonnes of food waste collected from households, supermarkets and food manufacturers each year. A total of 17 m cubic metres of biomethane – the equivalent of meeting the power needs of 8,300 homes – is generated each year at the plant through a process known as anaerobic digestion.

Charlotte Morton, chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association, added: “A home generated green gas, biomethane, is capable of replacing around 10% of the UK’s domestic gas needs and is currently the only renewable fuel available for HGVs. 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.”

Source: The Guardian