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Greenwood: Bus puts waste to good use

Tom Greenwood

In England, they're calling it the "poo bus," and they don't mean Winnie the Pooh.

On Nov. 20, the first passengers boarded the Bath Bus Co.'s Bio-Bus, a 40-seat coach powered entirely by human and food waste. The company expects up to 10,000 passengers to utilize the bus in a month, which will run between Bath and the Bristol Airport.

The bus has a range of 186 miles on one tank of gas, which is produced from the equivalent of around five people's waste over a year.

OK, now try and get the image of 40 people "releasing the Kraken" on a bus out of your head because it doesn't work that way ... thank God.

The bus is propelled by methane, a byproduct of the microbial process that breaks down about 75 million cubic meters of human "ca-ca" and 35,000 metric tons of food waste from the area around Bristol each year.

The millions of cubic meters of gas are used to power engines that turn generators producing electricity, according to Drury.

"But now we're adding it to the national gas grid and for this bus," said Ian Drury, media and public relations manager for Wessex Water, the regional water and sewage system.

"I have ridden on the Bio-Bus and it's just like a normal bus, but it's far more sustainable because it doesn't rely on fossil fuels. It even sounds like a normal bus."

Local, national and international reaction to the bus has been incredible, Drury said.

"We always felt it would generate some interest, especially from the passengers using it," Drury said. "We've taken inquiries from Europe, Canada and America as well."

The bus also reportedly produces 30 percent less carbon dioxide than normal diesel-powered coaches and has a special filtering system that prevents aromas associated with outhouses from entering the atmosphere.

According to proponents, future fecal-powered vehicles will help improve overall air quality, plus there's the added satisfaction of knowing the fuel source is "locally produced."

And the idea of a bus that runs on No. 2 is spreading.

In September, two sewage treatment plants in Oslo, Norway, will begin to collect methane produced by citizens who "slippe noen bomber."

The gas will then be used to power 80 city buses.

And, in case you're wondering, all the buses will offer regular seats and not stools.

(313) 222-2023

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26 Mile: The road is being repaved between Place and Rosell in Lenox Township, and between North Avenue and Omo Road in Ray Township. Traffic is being maintained but expect delays. This project ends later in the day Friday.

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