It’s a case of you drive what you eat, as gases produced by human waste have been processed into a viable bio-fuel. At least that was the situation back in 2010, when all the news outlets reported the story. Since then, the so-called Bio-Bug seems to have burrowed underground, and that’s a shame.
As oil becomes more scarce and difficult to get at, and with the negative press that industry has endured in recent years, it is only natural that people are increasingly looking to bio-fuels as a more stable and sustainable way forward.
This leaning towards alternative fuels was demonstrated a few years ago in the TV programme It’s Not Easy Being Green, when Dick Strawbridge showed us how he could run his Land Rover on bio-diesel made from recycled chip shop fat. Other alternatives to petrol and diesel include various plant-based fuels, the production of which takes up vast swathes of land. An exciting newcomer to this alternative fuels market was a car that runs on a gas that is derived from something we all produce every day: our own waste.
Using methane to produce car fuel is not a new idea, but it is only through recent technological advancements that the manufacturers have been able to iron out issues of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Of course the waste is heavily processed before it becomes fuel. It is stored in huge silos, where it is heated and the resulting methane is filtered off and converted into a gas that will power a car. The gas is similar in quality to LPG, and those running the project are quick to point out that the engine does not make a loud rasping noise, and there is no unpleasant smell.
The prototype car was a VW Beetle, officially called the Bio-Bug, but which instantly became known as the Dung Beetle. And resisting the temptation to wade into the rich pool of juvenile humour opportunities this project throws up, (the above illustration excepted), I’ll stick to the facts – which are that initial reports were quite impressive. If you think that a car powered by a fuel that started life as pie and chips might be a bit sluggish, you may be surprised to learn that the Bio-Bug has reached speeds well over 100 mph, and test drives have shown it to perform exactly like a standard car.
As for emissions the Bio-Bug produces about half a tonne less carbon dioxide per year than a standard petrol driven vehicle. But the Bio-Bug is actually carbon neutral as the carbon dioxide it emits would have gone into the atmosphere anyway through the production of methane through natural processes. For these reasons, I hope the Bio-Bug project is still progressing.
Bon appetit and happy motoring.