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The "Bio-Bug" Methane Powered Volkswagen

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On: Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 2:03PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


The "Bio-Bug" Methane Powered Volkswagen

Popular Science magazine is making an analogy between a new concept car in the UK and cars that run like “crap.” Yes, the high tech writers have stooped to an all-time low in using bathroom slang as adjectives, but how else should a car that runs on sewage be described? It seems that a Volkswagen Beetle has been transformed by Wessex Water (a sewage utility near Bristol UK) to operate on human waste byproducts. If all goes well, the Water Company plans to build a slew of what they call “Bio-Bugs.”

The methane gas produced by the sewage treatment plan has been utilized to power the facility for some time, but after noticing that there was an excess of methane left, the facility decided to design a green vehicle so that the methane was put to good use. According to the press release; human waste from the toilets of 70 homes can power the “Bio-Bug” for an entire year, provided the car is driven an average of around 10,000 miles. Wessex Water describes in its press release that compressed natural gas is used quite extensively in other countries, such as China and India.

Themethane gas from Wessex istreated through a process called biogas upgrading, which involves separating carbon dioxide molecules to produce sustainable energy.

The company that actually designed the bio-bug is GENeco, a subsidiary of Wessex Water. According to Mohammad Saddig, general manager of GENeco: “If you were to drive the car you wouldn’t know it was powered by biogas, as it performs just like any conventional car.” Mr. Saddiq went on to further explain that GENeco had been supplying treated compressed methane gas to generate electricity for the plant site exported to the National Grid electric company. The fuel for the Bio-Bug was surplus gas “we had available” and “we wanted to put it to good use in a sustainable and efficient way.”

GENeco is planning other eco-conscious projects, such as development of a fuel source from recycled food waste, since Americans throw out more energy in wasted food than “all of the oil and gas reserves laying off American shores, more waste means more bio-methane means more cars can run on the stuff,” according to Popular Science.

If you are wondering just how foul the exhaust from such a car would smell,thosewho have driven the "bio-bug" say that they noticedliterally no differencebetween the methane-powered Volkswagen anddriving avehicle with a conventional engine.




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