bio bus

The news is that U.K.’s first poop-powered bus hit the road this week. Passengers who paid the fare were ferried around parts of south-west England. But expel from your mind the picture of a vehicle kitted out with toilets for seats, with a bus-load of passengers happily knocking one out to get the thing to the next stop. The reality is slightly different. This bus runs totally on biomethane gas produced from human sewage and food waste. Called ‘Bio-Bus’ this 40-seater can ply up to 184 miles on a single tank of the gas, which is produced through a treatment process known as ‘anaerobic digestion.’

Seeing the success in gas production it is also being injected into the national grid by a newly constructed state-of-the-art facility. Wessex Water and treatment-plant operator GENeco has been instrumental in the green energy initiative, and has been able to produce 17 million cubic meters of biomethane a year – ”equivalent of meeting the power needs of 8,500 homes” as per Wessex Water.

‘The poo bus’

Wessex Water’s vehicle, lovingly called “the poo bus,” makes fewer ‘emissions’ than conventional diesel engines, and thus aids in improving air quality in urban areas. The gas doesn’t carry any smelly impurities, thus ensures that the bus doesn’t kick up a stink among those living along its route.

The bus ferries nearly 10,000 passengers a month between Bristol airport and the historic city of Bath 20 miles away. Recently Bristol was crowned the European Green Capital for 2015 and that has inspired this initiative.

Human poo is a valuable resource

Charlotte Morton, chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA), said GENeco’s Bio-Bus ”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 [and] not wasted in landfill sites or incinerators.” At the same time, GENeco general manager Mohammed Saddiq stated he believes gas-powered vehicles have ‘a vital role to play in improving air quality in U.K. Cities’.