The Bristol bio-bus is now riding the streets of England, powered by human feces and food waste. The public transport fuels up on human sewage and food at the Bristol sewage works. This excrement, along with discarded food products, is converted into methane gas, which powers the engine.
This "poop bus" can ferry up to 40 travelers between Bristol airport and Bath, a distance of a little over 19 miles. The vehicle can travel 186 miles on a full tank of waste, about the amount produced by five average people over the course of a single year. Exhaust gases from the bio-bus contain 30 percent fewer greenhouse gases than traditional fuels, and is filtered to avoid releasing an unpleasant odor.
GENeco, a subsidiary of Wessex Water, operates a plant in Bristol capable of extracting methane from food and human waste, and sending it to the public gas grid. This plant is capable of producing enough methane gas to power 8,300 homes, over 2 million cubic yard of methane each year. A fuel station was constructed at the facility to accommodate a future fleet of bio-buses.
"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," Mohammed Saddiq, general manager of GENeco, said.
A year of waste from one load of passengers on the poop bus would provide enough methane to drive the vehicle more than 835 miles, from Land's End in the far southwestern tip of England, up to the far northeastern tips of the island, John o' Groats, Scotland.
"Up to 10,000 passengers are expected to travel on the A4 service during the 4 week trial period, which is available not only for airport travel, but also local journeys along the route through Saltford, Keynsham, Brislington, Knowle and Hengrove," Collin Field, engineering director at Bath Bus Company, which is operating the poop bus, said.
Poop-bus service started on November 20, as another experiment by developers, exploring alternative fuels which could be utilized for public and private transport.
Bristol won a bid to be named as winner of the 2015 European Green Capital Award, and the bio-bus is another symbol for city leaders, marking their commitment to a cleaner, healthier environment for their population of 428,000 people.
"Using biomethane in this way not only provides a sustainable fuel, but also reduces our reliance on traditional fossil fuels," Saddiq stated in a company press release.