SEAT and Aqualia create biogas-based vehicle fuel from wastewater

Spanish automaker SEAT and water management company Aqualia have joined forces to produce renewable biofuel from wastewater to be used in compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered vehicles.

To kick off the five-year collaboration agreement, both companies have begun performing pilot tests in the wastewater treatment plant located in Jerez de la Frontera in the city of Cádiz.

As part of the joint project, titled Smart Green Gas, SEAT has provided Aqualia with two SEAT Leon TGI vehicles to conduct the necessary testing with the biomethane obtained from wastewater to confirm and verify the entire production chain until the fuel is obtained and used.

The project constitutes a step forward in the development of a circular economy and the construction of sustainable cities, the companies say.

In addition, it will help drive research and the creation of alternative fuels in the Spanish automotive sector by producing renewable, 100% local gas, whose main advantage is that the full use of biomethane-powered cars will enable CO2 emissions to be reduced “well to wheel” compared with vehicles powered by petrol.

“We are working to change the current paradigm, leaving behind the model in which treatment implies a significant energy cost,” Aqualia general director Félix Parra said in a statement.

“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.”

Smart Green Gas aims to optimise and make the Spanish energy system more flexible and achieve greater energy security in the EU by providing more autonomy and sustainability to cities that implement the system in their wastewater treatment plants.

The wastewater-to-fuel conversion is achieved through the development of new, highly efficient systems for producing biogas and converting it into biomethane.

Supported by the Centre for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI), Smart Green Gas 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.

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