Humans are filthy animals. We produce an incredible amount of trash, which fills up landfills, where it rots forever. Our garbage could be useful again if only we put some effort into recycling it. Now SEAT, a Spanish car manufacturer and part of the Volkswagen group, will help perfecting the methods of creating usable fuels from organic waste.
This is actually a joint project, called the Life Landfill Biofuel and approved by the European Commission, which will provide 55 % of the total €4.3 million budget. The goal is to produce renewable gas from municipal landfills. That gas, biomethane, can then be used to power cars, which makes for a very green, environmentally friendly way of going around the issue of transport pollution. The best thing is that the chances of this working are relatively high, because separate components of this technology already exist.
There are almost half a million landfills in Europe, which is a huge problem, because they pollute the environment and are a nightmare to maintain. The European Union will limit the amount of municipal waste that can be landfilled by 2035 to 10% and the rest of your trash will have to go somewhere. One of the places where it could go to is biomethane factory. There recycled trash would go through a multi-stage process, which would eventually produce a useful fuel for cars.
The process itself is rather simple. At first, waste needs to be separated – only organic waste can be used to make biofuel, because gases are released when it is breaking down. Organic waste goes into special reactors, where after 30 days a gas mixture is formed. Then biomethane is extracted from that mixture, creating a highly refined fuel, which then is delivered to gas stations.
SEAT is a perfect choice for this project, because it is the European car manufacturer with the broadest range of vehicles fueled with compressed natural gas (CNG). CNG technically is a greener fuel than petrol. And the good thing is that filing up on biomethane takes up to 3 minutes, which is comparable to pouring some petrol into your tank. Four test vehicles, provided by SEAT, will be tested for 30 thousand kilometres in this project.
Hopefully, the results of this project are going to be very positive and we will see biomethane used more widely in the near future. It would help reducing the waste going to landfills and would create a more environmentally-friendly fuel for cars.