Transport Theory

A motorcycle that runs on poo?

Posting in Cities

Don't worry, riders will not be expected to fuel the three-wheeler with their own by-products.

Yes, that's right: it's a tricycle with a toilet for a seat.

Happily, riders of Japanese toilet-maker TOTO's new prototype will not be fueling the three-wheeler with their own by-products.

But while the toilet seat is just for show, the idea behind it is not: the Japanese company, known for its toilets, has designed its Toilet Bike Neo to run on excrement. The 250cc 3-wheeler is the product of three years of development and debuted last week in Japan. The trike does not actually rely on its rider for fuel; the bike runs on biogas made up of fertilized, purified and compressed livestock waste as well as household wastewater, courtesy of the cities of Kobe and Shikaoi.

As an engineer explained to Wired, the waste and water are converted to methane gas through a fermentation process, and the methane is then purified to create bio-gas.

According to MSN, the U.S. Department of Energy's Biofuels Initiative is trying to make the cost of biomass fuels competitive with gasoline, and it aims to replace 30 percent of current gasoline consumption with biofuel usage by 2030.

While poo-powered vehicles may seem like an environmentally-friendly proposition, admirers of the Toilet Bike Neo should not get too excited: TOTO has indicated no plans to produce more of them.

Photo: TOTO

via [Wired Autopia, MSN]

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Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure