Could Poop Fuel Our Future? New Sewage-Powered Buses Hint at Yes

By Boonsri Dickinson | March 25, 2009 11:53 am

poofinal.jpgBathroom time may not be wasted time after all: A year’s worth of your poop can be turned into 2.1 gallons of useable diesel. And the Norwegian capital of Oslo plans to put all that waste to work powering 80 of its buses with fuel made from the Bekkelaget sewage treatment plant, which houses the waste of 250,000 people.

If all goes as planned, the city’s other waste treatment plant, as well as biofuels made from food waste, will eventually contribute to the total supply—and with serious results: Fueling 400 or so buses this way would reduce 30,000 tons of carbon emissions a year.

While the idea certainly has an “ick factor,” it’s not like gas-station attendants will have to start shoveling sewage directly into a bus’ fuel tank.

The biofuel is actually made from methane that is collected by a sewage treatment plant after microorganisms break down the waste. While switching to this bathroom-friendly method will cost the city 15 percent more to pay for new buses and the added maintenance fees, the benefits still outweigh the negatives: The cost of fuel at the pump is cheaper and it’s carbon neutral. Lives might be saved with the lower emissions of nitrogen oxide and fine particle matter in the air. The buses aren’t as loud. And before you turn your nose at this just yet, consider this: The fuel doesn’t smell.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Magnetic Bus
Discoblog: Green Future
DISCOVER: Future cities

Image: flickr/ an-girl

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