Food Waste to Fuel Oslo’s City Buses

OSLO, Norway, March 23, 2012 (ENS) – Stale bread, banana peels, coffee grounds and other food waste will be transformed into green fuel for Oslo’s city buses starting next year. The Norwegian capital’s new biogas plant will supply the fuel and also provide nutrient-rich biofertilizer for agriculture.

The plant will be able to process 50,000 tonnes of food waste annually, converting it to environment-friendly fuel for 135 municipal buses as well as enough biofertilizer for roughly 100 medium-sized local farms.

Biogas is a carbon dioxide-neutral fuel produced from biomass such as food waste, sewage sludge and manure.

Oslo city buses will soon run on biogas produced from food waste. (Photo by ekvator13)

Currently, 65 Oslo buses are powered by biogas produced from sludge from the city’s sewage treatment plant. When the new biogas plant reaches its full capacity in 2013, the local bus company will have enough biogas for at least 200 buses.

“Running on biogas will reduce emissions from public transport, which means less airborne particulate matter and thus improved air quality in Oslo. What’s more, the biogas buses run quietly,” explains acting plant manager Anna-Karin Eriksson of the Oslo Municipality Waste-to-Energy Agency.

Biogas in buses means cleaner air and less noise for Oslo’s 500,000 residents. Biogas not only helps to improve air quality, it is meant to be good business as well.

The new plant is slated to produce the energy equivalent of four million liters of diesel fuel annually. The plant is being constructed by the Norwegian company Cambi AS, which won the contract after intense competition with foreign companies.

For over 20 years, Cambi has been developing technology for converting biodegradable material into renewable energy. The biogas production processes were developed through long-term Norwegian research with funding from the Research Council of Norway.

The company has carried out a number of research projects that have received public funding from the Research Council and the former Norwegian Industrial and Regional Development Fund, now part of Innovation Norway.

Cambi’s Research Council funding was provided under the Large-scale Research Programme on Clean Energy for the Future. The company is also an industry partner in the Bioenergy Innovation Centre, one of Norway’s 11 centers for environment-friendly energy research.

Oslo’s new biogas plant will produce the biogas using a method known as thermal hydrolysis, whereby raw materials such as waste or sewage sludge are boiled under high temperature and high pressure. Cambi has worked out a hydrolysis process that yields substantially more biogas than conventional facilities.

Wojtech Sargalski (Photo courtesy Cambi)

Cambi spokesman Wojtech Sargalski says the contract is an important milestone for Cambi’s growth in processing food waste with the patented thermal hydrolysis process. Although Cambi has 22 Cambi plants in operation worldwide and another three under construction, Sargalski said this deal is large even by international standards.

“We are delighted that Cambi has been awarded the largest biowaste contract in Scandinavia by the city of Oslo. The contract will certainly have a positive impact on Cambi’s international performance in this sector, he said.

To date, the company has designed and delivered 28 plants for converting biodegradable material into renewable energy. Their plants are processing waste and sludge from a total of 23 million people in the United States, Australia, Chile, Japan, Dubai and many European countries.

Cambi has installed two plants for the treatment of household waste and industrial food waste – both in Norway.

The residue from the biogas production process may be used as liquid fertilizer with roughly the same nutrient content as compound fertilizer. The new plant, located north of Oslo, will supply both liquid and solid biofertilizer in addition to a liquid concentrate. “We’ve shown that biowaste has substantial value in itself and is well worth utilizing,” said Per Lillebo, chair of Cambi ASA. “The fertilizer produced is a vital part of the biological cycle.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2012. All rights reserved.