Jumping on the biomethane powered bandwagon

Oct. 26, 2016
Aqualia has started a five-year collaboration project with Spanish car manufacturer SEAT to fuel cars on biomethane produced from wastewater...

MADRID, Spain - Water services provider Aqualia has started a five-year collaboration project with Spanish car manufacturer SEAT to fuel cars on biomethane produced from wastewater.

Following in the tracks of French company Suez, which has been working on its BioGNVAL project, the Spanish partnership will see two SEAT Leon cars tested at a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in Jerez.

Estimates suggest that a medium sized wastewater treatment plant can produce more than 1,000 m3/day of biogas, enough for 300 vehicles to cover 15,000 km per year.

The Jerez trials are separate to Aqualia’s existing All-Gas project, which instead focuses on growing algae at the WWTP of El Torno Chiclana, which is then used to fuel a VolksWagen, the parent company of SEAT.

Powering vehicles from wastewater-produced biomethane is not a new development. Two years ago the UK’s first ever bus powered on wastewater - called a Bio-Bus – was put on the road.

According to the Renewable Energy Association, in 2015 the UK was the fastest growing biomethane market in the world.

In Sweden, over 60% of public buses already use fuel from sources such as biogas, bioethanol or biodiesel.

Historically, the challenge has not been converting food waste, sludge or crops into biomethane using anaerobic digestion.

The challenge has been that the produced biogas lacks the calorific value needed to be injected directly into the gas grid and used on a large scale. As a result, it is mixed with LPG before being injected directly into the gas grid.

Called SMART Green Gas, the SEAT/Aqualia collaboration has five partners, including Gas Natural Fenosa and Naturgas EDP, as well as public research organisations such as the Catalan Institute for Water Research and the universities of Girona, Valladolid and Santiago de Compostela.

Matthias Rabe, VP for R&D at SEAT, said: “With this development and collaboration project with Aqualia, SEAT has become the first brand in the country’s automotive sector to use 100% Spanish biomethane obtained from wastewater.”

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About the Author

Tom Freyberg

Tom Freyberg is an experienced environmental journalist, having worked across a variety of business-to-business titles. Since joining Pennwell in 2010, he has been influential in developing international partnerships for the water brand and has overseen digital developments, including 360 degree video case studies. He has interviewed high level figures, including NYSE CEO’s and Environmental Ministers. A known figure in the global water industry, Tom has chaired and spoken at conferences around the world, from Helsinki, to London and Singapore. An English graduate from Exeter University, Tom completed his PMA journalism training in London.