(NaturalNews) Engineers from alternative energy company GENeco say they have designed an automobile engine that can run off methane gas produced from human waste. To demonstrate the engine, they have placed it in a conventional VW Beetle convertible, dubbing the car the Bio-Bug.
Methane, a flammable gas, is a produced naturally as animal feces decay. Already sewage works across the United Kingdom use anaerobic digesters to break human waste down more quickly and extract the useful gas. The process is often used to create fuel for electric generators on dairy farms.
"In order to reap power from poop, farms install an anaerobic digester which, over a period of twenty days or so, breaks down some of the collected poop's solids into acids, which feed bacteria, which in turn digest the manure and produce biogas," writes Alex Steffen in his book Worldchanging.
In the past, however, vehicles could not be powered by methane gas without a significant reduction in performance.
"Previously the gas hasn't been clean enough to fuel motor vehicles without it affecting performance," said Mohammed Saddiq, who designed the engine prototype. "However, through using the latest technology our Bio-Bug drives like any conventional car and what's more it uses sustainable fuel. If you were to drive the car you wouldn't know it was powered by biogas as it performs just like any conventional car. "
The key to creating a high-performance methane engine is a practice known as biogas upgrading, in which carbon dioxide is removed from the gas produced by waste fermentation. The Bio-Bug can reach 114 miles per hour. Scientists consider it carbon neutral because all the carbon dioxide it produces during methane combustion would have been released into the atmosphere anyway from the decay of human waste.
According to GENeco, just one British sewage works could fuel a Bio-Bug for 95.4 million miles in a single year, lowering carbon dioxide emissions by 19,000 tons.
Another way of looking at it is that the excrement from 70 houses could fuel a single car for 10,000 miles. Unfortunately, this means that methane engines could never supplant petroleum engines at current driving levels.