Could Spare Biogas Fuel Bremerton’s Fleet?

Dads are another good source of biogas

The Bremerton City Council approved a $30,000 contract Wednesday night to commission a study of how the city could use a byproduct of wastewater treatment to power cars.

The city’s Westside treatment plant has two anaerobic digesters to process the tellingly titled “biosolids,” and those digesters yield a steady flow of “biogas,” a “high energy product,” according to the measure approved by the council.

A portion of the biogas is captured and used to heat the plant and the digester. The remaining gas is burnt “with no beneficial end use.”

If the gas could be efficiently captured and used for car fuel, it could offset the city’s demand for gasoline, said Phil Williams, director of the city’s Public Works and Utilities Department. The study would determine the potential benefit of buying and installing the equipment to capture and use the biogas, he said.

The city would also look into whether it was a better idea to convert passenger cars – which could cost about $3,000 a car – or buy already converted cars when old ones reach the end of their service life.

As the city grapples with a $4.4 million budget shortfall, the need for cheaper vehicles is apparent, Williams said.

“We certainly have the incentive to reduce the cost of operating the city’s fleet,” he said, adding that other cities across the country have converted parts of their fleet and are using the byproduct of turning sewage into energy.

Williams also noted that although gas prices have dropped about 50 percent since the summer, using the biogas could, “Insulate the city from the vagaries of the marketplace, and that would be a good thing.

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