14 April 2008

I Drive with your Waste

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In Lille, France, organic waste is now being collected to be transformed into biogas and used as fuel by city public transport.

In Lille, France, buses are running on biogas produced from organic waste. Twenty-eight research partners gathered together to exploit waste for transportation system in Lille (France), Göteborg and Stockholm (Sweden), Haarlem (The Netherlands) and Rome (Italy).

The City of Lille is coordinating the European Biogasmax program, partly funded by the European Commission. Launched in 2006 for a period of four years, Biogasmax involves 28 European partners, notably the region of Göteborg (Sweden) and the cities of Stockholm, Rome and Haarlem (The Netherlands). The project supports the innovative production of biogas for transportation in order to reduce fossil CO2 emissions from petrol and gas, and increase the European autonomy in terms of energy. The technical reliability and cost-effectiveness of biogas fuels are demonstrated as more and more commuters are transported on biogas.

What’s original about Lille is that the city created a short circuit between public waste management service and public transportation. At the heart of this circuit lies the CVO, the Organic Waste Valorization Center in Sequedin. This biomethanization plant receives 100,000 tons of organic waste per year from kitchens and gardens in the region. Special trash bins, made available to users, are collected once a week by biogas-fuelled trucks. This “green” waste is unloaded at the CVO and placed in tanks where it ferments to produce biogas and compost. The biogas is then concentrated into biomethane fuel and piped to the nearby bus depot. There, buses fill their tanks daily. Their routes cover Lille and east of the city. Besides running on renewable energy, these buses are odourless, don’t emit any particles or sulphur composites that could harm the environment, and are quieter than buses running on gas oil.

Today, the capacity of the CVO enables 100 buses to run on biomethane. The goal is to double production, notably thanks to organic waste from neighboring treatment plants. Perhaps one day, every citizen of Lille will be able to get around on garbage.

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