Published on August 8th, 2010 | by Cindy Hoots
New Bio-Bug Runs on Human Waste
GENeco introduces UK’s first VW Beetle to run on methane gas generated during the sewage treatment process.
I remember joking about the idea of using human gas to power an automobile. But now, the joke’s on us. UK-based GENeco has done just that. Working with the South West Regional Development Agency, GENeco imported special equipment and developed a process called biogas upgrading to treat methane from sewage sludge… in other words, creating an alternative energy source from the gas released from human poo.
The Volkswagen Beetle dubbed the “Bio-Bug” was built for GENeco by UK’s The Greenfuel Company. The Bio-Bug’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine was converted to run on biogas and still hit about 114 miles per hour. However, the Bio-Bug uses regular unleaded gas to start, then switches over to methane automatically once it’s running. And according to GENeco, “waste flushed down the toilets of 70 homes in Bristol is enough to power the Bio-Bug for a year, based on an annual mileage of 10,000 miles.”
Using biogas from sewage sludge isn’t anything new. In Sweden, more than 11,500 vehicles already run on biomethane produced from sewage plants. So why is the rest of the world resistant? My guess can be summed up in two words – Big Oil. Oil companies would literally see their profits flushed down the toilet.
Okay, but why a VW Beetle? Good question… according to Mohammed Saddiq, GENeco’s general manager,
“The choice of car was inspired by students who took part in a workshop. They thought it would be appropriate that the poo-powered car should be the classic VW Beetle Bug because bugs naturally breakdown waste at sewage works to start the treatment process which goes on to produce the energy.”
Brilliant! Now, that’s a great marketing hook.
Image credit: GENeco