Thursday 18 September 2008

Council aims to run buses on ‘grass gas’

CORK City Council aims to run a park-and-ride bus and other vehicles on gas produced from grass within the next two years.

The local authority is working on the project with UCC’s Dr Jerry Murphy and Bord Gáis.

All three parties believe the pilot scheme could lead to a significant commercial enterprise.

Michael O’Brien, who is the senior engineer in Cork City Council’s environmental directorate, said he was very excited with the project which he believes is “very viable”.

The process involves bailing ordinary grass and putting it into a digester. This produces gas, which can be used in converted vehicles.

The city council has a fleet of 300 vehicles and is the only local authority in the country licensed to run park and ride buses.

At present about 10% of its fleet runs on green biodiesel.

“We think that into the future making gas from grass will be much more sustainable. It is also a way of getting rid of the grass that we cut in our own parks etc. The beauty about it is that it won’t compromise food production,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We hope to have it up and running within the next two years. We intend to make one of our park and ride buses available for it. We can also use it on our other vehicles. We have 300 of them in all shapes and sizes,” the senior engineer said.

If successful, Mr O’Brien says there is no reason the project cannot be turned into a commercial venture.

He believes the day will come when farmers will set aside fields of grass, from which gas will be produced.

“This gas could be added to the natural gas pipeline. It is a very promising technology,” Mr O’Brien said.

The city council has been leading the way on green energy for a number of years.

It is extracting gas from the Kinsale Road landfill, which is converted into electricity. The electricity goes into the national grid, and feeds about 1,000 houses in the city.

The council is also looking at providing heating energy from natural resources in the docklands.

Irish Examiner

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