Wastewater to help power vehicles

SEAT and Aqualia have created the first 100 percent Spanish alternative fuel from wastewater

Car company SEAT and Aqualia have joined forces to develop renewable biofuel from wastewater to be used in compressed natural gas (CNG) powered vehicles. To kick off the five-year partnership both companies have begun performing pilot tests in the wastewater treatment plant located in Jerez de la Frontera in the south of Spain.

“With this development and collaboration project with Aqualia, SEAT has become the first brand in the country’s automotive sector to use 100 percent Spanish bio methane obtained from wastewater,” explained Dr Matthias Rabe, Vice-President for R&D, SEAT.

“Fostering the creation of renewable alternative fuels, which help promote future environmental improvements and the long-term use of vehicles in cities are an integral part of SEAT’s CNG strategy.”

SEAT has provided Aqualia with two vehicles to conduct the necessary testing with the bio methane obtained from the wastewater to confirm and verify the entire production chain until the fuel is obtained and used.

According to Félix Parra, General Director, Aqualia, developing the Smart Green Gas project with a medium sized wastewater treatment plant could potentially lead to the daily production of a million litres of biofuel, enough to power more than 300 vehicles.

“This would enable cities to fuel their network of urban buses, bin lorries, police cars or ambulances, among others,” said Parra.

The project, called Smart Green Gas, aims to optimise and make the energy system more flexible to cities that implement this system in their wastewater treatment plants. Parra said this is achieved through the development of new, highly efficient systems for producing biogas and converting it into bio methane, which are generated from sewage in cities’ wastewater treatment plants. The project aims to obtain locally produced, renewable fuel that can be used in the automotive sector or injected into the natural gas distribution network.

The initiative is being developed with the participation of five partners, including Gas Natural Fenosa and Naturgas EDP, as well as public research organisations such as the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA) and the universities of Girona, Valladolid and Santiago de Compostela.