‘World’s fastest bus’ powered by AD gas

A British bus running on biomethane compressed natural gas (CNG) recovered from cow manure has set a new land speed record for a service bus after recording speeds of over 75 miles per hour (mph).

Reading Buses’ ‘Bus Hound’ (pictured right) was officially recorded by the UK Timing Association doing an average lap speed of 76.785mph around Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford, though the bus unofficially topped 80mph. The bus was not modified, save for the removal of its speed limiter, which usually caps it at 56mph, and so was eligible for the record of fasted service-use, street-legal bus.

The transport provider arranged the record attempt to promote the use of CNG as a viable alternative fuel.

Bus Hound details

‘World’s fastest bus’ powered by AD gas

The Bus Hound (named for the Bloodhound supersonic car that aims to break 1,000mph next year) is one of 34 vehicles used by Reading Buses running on CNG. Together they make up 20 per cent of the provider’s fleet.

Painted in a black and white livery resembling a Friesian cow, the Bus Hound is powered by compressed biomethane derived from the anaerobic digestion (AD) of organic resources including cow manure, raw food waste and green waste.

The gas, which is drawn from the gas grid before being compressed at Reading Buses’ site at Great Knolls Street, is produced by placing organic waste into tanks devoid of oxygen to allow microbes within the waste to digest the matter and break it down into methane and a digestate by-product, which can be used as a fertiliser.

Eight composite gas tanks stored on the roof of the bus power the vehicle, and can hold 1,200 litres of gas.

The fuel, says Reading Buses, is much cleaner than regular fuel, producing ‘no particulates and no hydrocarbons’ as well as reducing the amount of nitrogen oxide put into the air by 55 per cent.

Reading Buses says it now has plans to add to the fleet with the UK’s first biomethane double-deckers.

Raising the profile of ‘a real, credible fuel source’

Martijn Gilbert, Chief Executive of Reading Buses, told “This is fantastic, a great advert for biomethane which is growing in popularity each day.

“We can’t wait for vehicle suppliers to widen their product range so we can take even greater advantage of this carbon neutral and cost-effective solution.”

He added: “CNG is not only good for the environment, but its use and promotion has led to noticeable customer growth too.

“With our supporting partners we are setting out to raise the profile of biomethane CNG powered commercial vehicles and demonstrate that this is a real, credible fuel source.

“At the same time, we challenge old fashioned perceptions of bus travel and also promote science, technology and innovation in our industry.”

Bristol Bio-Bus

To date, only a few cities across the nation have implemented the use of biogas in public transport.

Last November, the 40-seater Bio-Bus was introduced in Bristol.

The bus, which provides a Bristol to Bath service, uses bio-methane produced by Bristol-based renewable energy company GENeco, a subsidiary of Wessex Water.

The company produces biomethane from its sewage treatment works in the city. Over 75 million cubic metres of sewage waste every year goes towards producing around 17 million cubic metres of biomethane – enough to power 8,300 homes, as well as the bus.

Find out more about Reading Buses’ Bus Hound or learn more about the Bio-Bus in Resource 81, out in summer 2015.

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