Bid for Bristol ‘Poo Bus’ fleet expansion

Bid for Bristol ‘Poo Bus’ fleet expansion submittedA fleet of buses fuelled by gas extracted from human waste could be running in Bristol as early as next year as part of an initiative to improve air quality in the city.

Wessex Bus, which currently runs more than 100 buses around the Bristol, Bath and South Gloucestershire area, has submitted a proposal in partnership with waste recycling and renewable energy firm GENeco to the government to run the fleet of bio-buses and build a permanent refuelling station at Avonmouth.

According to GENeco, the buses would leave a carbon footprint 80 per cent smaller than regular buses.

Last November, GENeco launched its pilot Bio-Bus, powered by gas generated from sewage and inedible food waste. The 40-seater bus, decorated on one side with images of passengers sitting on toilets, is used on the number 2 route from Bristol Airport to Bath City Centre and can travel up to 184 miles on a single tank of gas.

The two companies have now submitted a joint bid to the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) Low Emission Bus Scheme for a grant of £2.5 million. The funding would help roll out a further 10 Bio-Buses in Bristol in 2016, with a further 10 slated to be running by 2019.

Fuelling the buses

The biomethane used to power the current bus comes from GENeco’s sewage treatment works in Avonmouth, which treats around 75 million cubic metres of sewage waste and 35,000 tonnes of food waste every year. Gas to be used on the bus has propane added and carbon dioxide and impurities removed to create a fuel with ‘virtually odour-free emissions’. A temporary gas refuelling plant is then used to fuel the bus.

Should the bid be successful, GENeco also says work on a permanent refuelling station at the sewage treatment works would start immediately.

Speaking to Resource earlier this year, Mohammed Saddiq, Managing Director of GENeco, explained the reasoning behind the Bio-Bus. He said: “We’re operating within the philosophy of a circular economy, which not only helps us to reduce our impact on the environment, but also reduce the amount of waste we are producing, consume [fewer] resources and make us more productive – which in turn reduces our unit costs and increases our competitiveness.”

The launch of the pilot bus last year coincided with a European Court of Justice ruling that many UK cities are in breach of the EU Air Quality Directive, and that around 30,000 deaths occur in the UK each year due to problems associated with air pollution.

GenEco states that the biomethane used in the bus can reduce particulate emissions by up to 97 per cent.

Fleet would target problem areas of Bristol and Bath

Commenting this week on the OLEV bid, Saddiq said: “Our plans are for the buses to run in areas of Bristol and Bath that have the poorest air quality. The majority would refuel at our treatment plant, but we will also look to provide a mobile refuelling unit that could be used by Wessex Bus at depots other than their Avonmouth site. It would significantly cut emissions harmful to human health and because the buses will run on gas from renewable sources, it means each gas bus would have an 80 per cent less carbon footprint than a typical diesel bus.”

He added: “While many passengers see the fun side of the Bio-Bus with its eye-catching livery, it’s fair to say that people genuinely like to know that the bus is sustainably powered and better for the environment.”

Antony Goozee, Commercial Director of Wessex Bus, added: “This is a great opportunity to increase the number of gas-powered buses on the streets of Bristol and surrounding area, which will significantly improve air quality.

“What’s more, we believe this would be the most sustainably fuelled fleet in the UK, as it will be the only fleet where the buses are actually powered by treatment of sewage and inedible food waste from the local community.”

You can read more about the Bristol Bio-Bus in Resource’s feature article

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