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Buses could be powered by sewer fatbergs

Fatberg in tunnel

Buses could soon be powered by sewer fatbergs in a bid to find an environmentally friendly way of disposing the problematic waste.

Thames Water has teamed up with renewables firm Argent Energy to look into how the congealed fats, oils and greases could be turned into an environmentally friendly fuel.

The bergs build up in pipes and sewers creating blockages.

Previously, the water company said it either extracted the fatberg out of the pipes to send to landfill, or it would break it down and put it back through the system. However, now it said it was looking at clever ways of disposing of the unpleasant waste.

Under the plans, the fatbergs would be dug out of the sewers and transferred to a specialist plant, where they would be processed with the fats, oils and greases, and transformed into bio-diesel. Other unflushable items such as baby wipes would be disposed of.

Thames Water strategic recycling manager Simon Brum said the scheme was a “no-brainer”.

The project will run alongside the company’s ‘Bin it – don’t block it’ campaign, which aims to prevent fatbergs building up in the sewers in the first place.

Brum added: “We’re not going to instantly change everyone’s behaviour of binning things rather than flushing them – we’ve got to deal with the problem. We’re talking to field treatment works to get a better idea of where these fatbergs are, and if it is possible to use them. It’s about taking it out of the supply.

“Let’s be clever, remove them, and then do something good for the environment.”

If the project is successful, Thames Water said it hoped that the bio-diesel produced could be used to power buses in the Thames Water area.

Argent UK sourcing manager Heather Swinbank said: “We always encourage people to dispose of items correctly, but what we’re saying is if there is a fatberg there, let’s be clever about it. We want to make renewable fuel from waste, and are hoping to create a renewable and sustainable service.”

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