Planet Earth

This Poop Mobile Could Get All Its Energy From 70 Homes' Worth of Methane

DiscoblogBy Joseph CalamiaAug 5, 2010 11:46 PM
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Last week, we discussed a poop-powered rocket. Now a new car promises we'll see human waste's potential closer to home--or further from home, but not as far as space. The Bio-Bug, a modified Volkswagen Beetle, can run on fuel made from raw sewage. "Biogas upgrading" has allowed GENeco, Bio-Bug's developer and part of the British waste-processing companies that make up Wessex Water, to create methane from human waste. The process starts with anaerobic digestion: Microbes eat through waste in an airtight, oxygen-free container. They leave behind only digestate, which works as a fertilizer, and a gas mixture that is mostly carbon dioxide and methane. Methane is combustible in the modified car's engine. So, after removing the carbon dioxide, the company has poop power. Mohammed Saddiq, GENeco’s general manager, says on the company's site, that human waste is only the beginning.

“Waste flushed down the toilets in homes in the city provides power for the Bio-Bug, but it won’t be long before further energy is produced when food waste is recycled at our sewage works. . . It will mean that both human waste and food waste will be put to good use . . .”

The company told the BBC that Bio-Bug operates (and smells) the same as the fossil fuel-burning alternative, and that waste from 70 homes could generate enough methane to drive the car, assuming it drives about 10,000 miles a year. Related content: Discoblog: Finally! A Self-Sustaining, Sewage-Processing, Poop-Powered Rocket Discoblog: Buzz Aldrin Explains: How to Take a Whiz on the Moon Discoblog: A Novel Geoengineering Idea: Increase the Ocean’s Quotient of Whale Poop Discoblog: The Coolest Carnivorous Plant/Toilet Plant You’ll See This Week

Image: flickr / Stephen Sullivan Sr.

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