Biogas, which often means methane derived from the manure of cattle or other livestock, has already begun to be used as a power source to make biofuels so that the process is less carbon-intensive. But guess what's now powering busses in Norway?
The use of biogas itself as a way to move vehicles rather than just a greener way to make ethanol has been picking up steam. And the idea just got a boost in Oslo where city officials announced their intentions to introduce 80 poop-powered buses, and to do it not with livestock manure, but rather with human waste.
In case you haven't re-watched The Matrix lately, recall that your own body produces plenty of energy, and apparently much of that gets passed on. One of the Oslo project heads told AFP that a person, just by using the restroom, produces the energy equivalent of more than two gallons of diesel in a year. The Norwegians plan to use waste from a treatment plant that handles a quarter-million city dwellers; that adds up to enough energy for a fleet of 80 buses to each drive more than 60,000 miles.
The buses should roll out in 2010, and environmentalists are hoping for biogas to be a double whammy. If methane itself enters the atmosphere, it can be a far more dangerous greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide we fret about more. Burned as a fuel, however, methane supposedly emits far less particulate matter and nitrous oxide than the default bus fuel, diesel.
Oslo's total bus fleet comes in between 350 and 400, so if this experiment works, the city could tap into another sewage treatment plant and outfit even more buses for biogas. Something to think about the next time you're sitting on the john.