Restroom signI came across this interesting article on EarthFirst and followed the link to a similar announcement on WorldChanging. Basically, the city of Oslo, Norway is going to start running their buses on biomethane. The WorldChanging article says:

In Oslo, air pollution from public and private transport has increased by approximately 10% since 2000, contributing to more than 50% of total CO2 emissions in the city. With Norway’s ambitious target of being carbon neutral by 2050 Oslo City Council began investigating alternatives to fossil fuel-powered public transport and decided on biomethane.

Biomethane is a by-product of treated sewage. Microbes break down the raw material and release the gas, which can then be used in slightly modified engines. Previously at one of the sewage plants in the city half of the gas was flared off, emitting 17,00 tonnes of CO2. From September 2009, this gas will be trapped and converted into biomethane to run 200 of the city’s public buses.

To me this sounds like a great project. I mean really, we (meaning humans) spend billions of dollars treating our sewage and trying to find ways to make it disappear and Oslo has come up with a way to use it. It’s essentially free energy — in that the basic beginning material (and you know what it is) is certainly not going to disappear anytime soon and you have to do something with it anyway. It’s a resource that is abundant, not owned by anyone, and every city, town, village, has to come up with some way to treat it and handle it anyway. This adds a different step and violá power to run buses and other automobile.

I think every level of government that has to deal with sewage treatment should be keeping an eye on this program to see just how well it works and to begin plans to implement a similar program in their own area.

Thank you Oslo for thinking outside the box.

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