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Volkswagen Creates Sewage-Powered Beetle 83

Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that Volkswagen is giving new meaning to the term 'Dung Beetle' with a prototype able to cover 10,000 miles annually on the waste from 70 households. The Bio-Bug was launched by Wessex Water, which is generating methane from human waste at a sewage treatment works near Bristol. 'Our site has been producing biogas for many years, which we use to generate electricity to power the site and export to the National Grid,' says one company official. 'We decided to power a vehicle on the gas, offering a sustainable alternative to using fossil fuels which we so heavily rely on in the UK.' The Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association says the launch of the Bio-Bug proves that biomethane from sewage sludge can be used as fuel. 'This is a very exciting and forward-thinking project demonstrating the myriad benefits of anaerobic digestion (releasing energy from waste). Biomethane cars could be just as important as electric cars.'"
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Volkswagen Creates Sewage-Powered Beetle

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  • So... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 06, 2010 @01:53PM (#33165070)

    It's a Dung Beetle?

  • LOL (Score:4, Funny)

    by Spazntwich ( 208070 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @01:54PM (#33165098)

    Runs on the runs.

  • I hear they get shitty gas mileage...
    I hear crashing those is a really shitty experience...

    • I get forty rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it!

    • by Yewbert ( 708667 )

      I heard Toyota and Chevrolet had partnered on an attempt to achieve this same design. They were gonna call it the Toyolet.

      To improve mileage, all you needed to do was put a brick in the tank.

      The first prototypes were kinda cheap, though - the seats had two positions: up and down.

  • by NetNed ( 955141 )
    That is some powerful shit!
  • I think they're full of shit.
  • I don't want to play "slug bug" with you anymore.
  • sure to turn on your AC's "internal circulation" feature.
    • Anonymous Cowards have an "internal circulation" feature?

      1. That explains their shitty posts.
      2. Doesn't that mean that, eventually, drivers of the "Dung Beetle" will run out of fuel, if all the ACs stop pooping?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 06, 2010 @02:03PM (#33165292)

    at least not in sweden. I driven a biogascar in sweden since 2008. At least volkswagen, volvo, opel (vauxhall), fiat makes commercial cars that can be bought here in sweden. The biogas that one uses in Stockholm is guaranted to be made from at least 50% of sewage, so I fail to see whats special about this car. Could someone enlight me how its different?

    • Sounds good in theory but if we imagine a future without gasoline or diesel, just 1 methane-powered Beetle per 70 homes isn't very practical.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No, its never going to be _the_ replacement for gasoline or diesel, but as methane is much worse green house gas than carbondioxide. I still think its a good idea to use it as fuel instead of just letting it out into the atmosphere...

        • Is methane much worse then Co2? I mean Co2 is a very stable compound and Methane has a lot short life span as it breaks down easier.

          Or are you simply looking at the heat retention factor and ignoring the facts that Co2 remains in the atmosphere 200 times longer then methane?

          • CO2 stays in the air longer, but methane contributes to much more greenhouse warming. (200 years is not a correct number - it's highly variable.) Methane tends to break down to CO2 anyway. So the options are either methane for some time, which is a stronger greenhouse gas, then decomposing to CO2, or burn it, and just have the CO2. Pretty much nobody thinks methane is better in the atmosphere because of that reason. The excess CO2 is not good, but it's better than methane over the same time period.
    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      Just my thought. This proves nothing _NEW_.

      Good that they use the gas for transportation though. All solid, fluid and gas energy resources should be spent on transportation imho since they is so very convenient there and it requires more energy to convert an electricity source into a chemical energy source for such devices.

      Better save them for transportation and pull electricity from things which are not convenient for transportation, such as solar panels, wind power, water power, nuclear (may be ok for tra

    • by SiaFhir ( 686401 )
      DeLorean did it back in the 80's. The footage is available at the end of the first Back to the Future movie. It flies too. And it travels through time once it reaches 88mph.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's the smell of clean air. Smells horrible.

  • by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @02:04PM (#33165314)
    I turn up my nose on it!!!
  • better hit Taco Bell.

  • Any chemist in the house? What's the difference?
    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <atd7.cornell@edu> on Friday August 06, 2010 @02:20PM (#33165580) Homepage

      If filtered properly, none. Methane is methane.

      But the two are likely to have impurities, and differ in terms of impurities present.

      And as some other commenter said - 70 households of waste to power one car isn't too effective, unless they can improve the ratio sometime down the line.

      It does lead to interesting thoughts - The sewage systems in developed countries are likely not nearly optimal for biogas generation, compared to the digesters that seem to be rapidly increasing in popularity in developing countries. I think the waste disposal systems that lead to optimal biogas generation are too "outhouse-ish" for most people in developed countries, but are a major leap forward in places like India where many places utterly lack any sort of sewage system whatsoever.

      • It's probably more economical to install a power generation plant at a sewage treatment facility instead of doing this. and to that point, It's probably even more economical to use something like an Activated Carbon Facilitated Oxidation reactor to power a low temp steam turbine generator.

  • in your general direction!
  • Will the seats all have built-in bedpans? "Oh no kids, almost out of gas! Quick, scarf down this Taco Bus slop!"
  • Not unexpected... after all the S. American bugs that were produced up until a few years ago ran great on alcohol based fuels... The flat 4 air cooled engine can be made to run on many things...

    • This is the 'new' Beetle. There have been 18 different engine choices for the new Beetle so far, and all appear to be liquid-cooled. Some are TDIs. All appear to be inline 4 cylinder engines.

      And like the old flat 4 aircooled, they can run on many different fuels. But there the similarity ends.

  • What got me interested in methane for vehicle fuel was reading an old reprint where some farmer in England was capturing gas from the waste from his pigs in order to fuel his personal vehicle during WW2.
    It makes sense to recycle every part of our waste instead of extracting more fossil fuels.

  • If you buy this car, you're full of shit.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Can someone tag with Mr. Fusion?

  • I knew someone who ran a car on fish & chip fat. It smelled like a fish & chip shop, soooo I'm guessing you won't be impressing any dates with your dung beetle. It should curb your appetite a little though.
  • Where does all that methane from sewers and waste treatment plants go right now. I heard that methane that occurs naturally generates much of the greenhouse gasses that we have in the atmosphere. Maybe each house should get a small methane collector instead of letting it all go out the vent in the roof! Especially those houses with a septic tank.
  • Yeah, that will sure be sustainable. At the 1 in 70 households being able to have 1 car like this, I don't see this as an ultimate solution, but it might be a start at least. The bigger problem will need a better solution though, since, at least in the USA, most households have 2-3 cars/vehicles, so at 1 for every 70 households, it will only be about 0.5% of total household vehicles (not to mention corporate fleet vehicles, like commercial trucks, transit, and rentals).
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Jedi Alec ( 258881 )

      Yeah, that will sure be sustainable. At the 1 in 70 households being able to have 1 car like this, I don't see this as an ultimate solution, but it might be a start at least.

      The 70 households is just a typical journalist trick to make it comprehensible for average Joe. Once you start taking into account all the biogas that can be generated from others sorts of waste(livestock, excess farm produce, etc) it starts to add up.

      And no, none of these solutions will solve our energy problems in a single go. But if

  • I hear cars that run on fryer oil are nice because they always smell like french-fries. This car...maybe not so much.

  • by Conchobair ( 1648793 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @03:23PM (#33166726)
    I'll be holding out for the Mini Pooper.
  • "Shit, we're outta gas!"
  • As mentioned on Wayne's World. "Apparently, it's not just a clever name, they really do suck."

  • So they made a Dung Beetle

  • bowel movement.
  • I know this is Idle and we're not supposed to be serious, but doesn't this seem mildly impractical? 1 car and 10k miles per 70 households seems a bit much. Imagine the carpools!
  • Who will be the players in "Big Sewage"? Also, Xenu help us if there is a spill...
  • I'm really happy that people are still doing this. However it's certainly not new. If my sources are correct, the sewage treatment plant in christchurch, new zealand stopped doing this about 10 years ago. I think it was because it wasn't economical, but I'm not entirely sure on that. It may have been longer ago. They were doing it when I was a kid, which seems to be getting longer and longer ago these days...

    Still, with the changes in technology and attitudes to the environment, it's quite possible its viab

  • What I would rather not find out is what the burning of this gas smells like. I've heard of a cooking oil powered van that two guys took on a cross country trip from one side of the US to the other. Stopping and filling up at any fast food restaurant where they asked for used fry oil that was just going to get thrown out. It was said that where ever they drove, it smelled of French Fries. [citation needed]
  • Ok, first i need to buy this car, then I need to eat a lot of mcdonalds crap....then I get to go to work!

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller