The consortium of the European LIFE NIMBUS project put into operation a biomethane production plant from sewage sludge, which will supply a public bus in the Barcelona metropolitan area. This vehicle, part of the Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) fleet, will be the first to run on biomethane obtained from sewage sludge and will reduce its carbon footprint by more than 85% thanks to the use of a high quality, renewable fuel that is carbon neutral.
LIFE NIMBUS, a research project co-financed by the European Commission, framed in the LIFE Program and whose acronym stands for Non-IMpact BUS, aims to promote more sustainable transport through the circular economy. This initiative is aligned with the Biogas Roadmap, approved in Spain in 2022, which identifies the challenges and opportunities for the development of this gas of renewable origin and proposes quadrupling its national production by 2030.
The project, which has just begun pilot-scale tests to validate the technologies developed, demonstrates the importance of public-private collaboration to decarbonize urban transport in Barcelona.
It is led by Cetaqua (Water Technology Center) and has the participation of Aigües de Barcelona, manager of the Baix Llobregat WWTP; TMB, which provided a bus from its fleet with a daily route of 100 km; and the GENOCOV research group of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), responsible for the design, construction and development of bioelectrochemical technology (BES) that allows a more efficient production of hydrogen, using less electricity. The initiative also has the support of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area.
“It is a sustainable circular economy project and to which we are fully committed. It is a strategic project for TMB, and we hope it will continue to be able to use biomethane on a massive scale,” said TMB CEO, Gerardo Lertxundi.
LIFE NIMBUS enabled the design and construction of a biological methanation demonstration plant in the Baix Llobregat ecofactory. The ecofactory converts the traditional treatment plant into a facility that generates valuable resources. In this case, the sewage sludge will be used as fuel to boost green transport in the Barcelona metropolitan area, encouraging the city to get closer to the climate neutrality proposed for 2050.
“This initiative tests various technologies, focused on the production of biomethane, a high-quality and renewable fuel. In addition, LIFE NIMBUS promotes power-to-gas technology to store surplus renewable energy. Within the framework of the project, we only considered the commissioning of a biomethane-powered bus, but, according to the results obtained, the operations can be scaled to a higher volume,” said Oriol Casal, Project Manager of the LIFE NIMBUS project in Cetaqua.