Hydrogen double-deckers in London, biofuel buses in Norway, and even buses powered by coffee - where do we get our tickets?!
London’s iconic red buses have now gone green – but not literally. The UK’s first hydrogen double-decker buses launched in early 2021 to help reduce the capital’s carbon footprint and tackle toxic air pollution.
Built by UK company Wrightbus, the 20 new environmentally friendly buses will produce no pollution from their exhausts, and will join more than 500 electric buses in the core fleet which are already zero emission.
So, why hydrogen? Hydrogen buses store large amounts of energy which makes them well-suited to longer routes. Hydrogen fuel cells don’t contain any harmful emissions either, with the only by-product being water from the chemical reaction of hydrogen with oxygen from the air - the process that produces electricity to power the bus. Plus, did you know that Formula 1 is looking to make race cars run on hydrogen power in the future too?! It seems that hydrogen is in high demand!
The hydrogen for the buses is currently being taken from an industrial plant in the UK, using up waste hydrogen that is a by-product from the factory. These new buses will also help clean up the air and improve the health of Londoners by reducing the level of harmful nitrogen oxide in the air.
So you can look forward to smoother and quieter journeys, due to less engine vibration, and even take advantage of free-to-use USB charging points. Now that’s a smooth operator.
Now, that’s not all keeping London bus-y (geddit?)… They’ve come up with another eco-friendly way to reduce transport emissions – and it can be found at the bottom of your favourite iced frappé.
Many of us rely on coffee to give us that get up and go in the morning, but did you know that coffee could power our public transport too?
Biofuel created from waste coffee grounds is helping to power some of London’s buses. Tech company bio-bean has created a fuel by combining oil extracted from coffee waste with diesel – now that’s a specialty blend.
And why diesel? While it does tend to produce higher levels of nitrogen oxides than petrol, it generally emits less carbon dioxide – especially in newer engines due to more recent emissions guidance. Regardless, we’re all for any way to make fuels more eco-friendly. Every little helps!
So far, bio-bean have produced six thousand litres of coffee, and with the average Brit drinking around 2 cups of coffee a day, we don’t think waste coffee grounds will be in short supply! And just imagine if they had access to coffee waste from the whole world’s coffee drinkers… Brew-tiful.
But wait just there - London aren’t the only ones on board with greener buses. Our Norwegian friends are also on the road to reducing their carbon footprint.
Norway is rolling out 189 green buses fuelled with biogas or biodiesel to offer a clean solution for inner-city traffic in the bus-tling Norwegian city of Trondheim.
Biogas can be produced from natural materials such as manure, agricultural waste, plant material sewage or even food waste, and biodiesel is made from recycled cooking oils and animal fats. Both are renewable energy sources, so we’re excited to see them used more in the future.
[Fun fact: China reportedly powers around 50 million rural households using biogas.]
So, buses running on biofuels could be the most environmentally sound form of public transport to date. There’s still a way to go, but we’re here for the ride. So next time you hop on a bus, wherever you are, see if you're riding one run on green power.
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