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Waste hits the road with 'S-Poo-V'

Taking waste-to-resource recovery initiatives to new heights, Urban Utilities has launched Australia's first S-Poo-V — a Hyundai Kona electric car powered entirely by biogas generated at the Oxley wastewater treatment plant in Brisbane.

“They might not realise it, but more than 330,000 people in Brisbane’s south and west are helping to create fuel for our poo-powered cars every time they flush,” Urban Utilities spokesperson Anna Hartley said.

Named "Number 2", the new vehicle is the second car to join the Urban Utilities poo fleet.

“Number 2 is not your average SUV — it’s an S-Poo-V with a giant poo emoji emblazoned on the side, so there’s no guessing what’s powering it,” Hartley said.

“On average, one person’s daily habits can generate enough electricity to make the car travel around 450 metres.”

And while the fancy new S-Poo-V is hard to miss, Hartley said turning wastewater into electricity is saving the utility around $1.7 million a year in operating costs.

“Last financial year we produced enough electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 4000 homes for an entire year,” she said.

“Poo power doesn’t only help keep our cars on the road, it also helps us run our two largest wastewater treatment plants at Oxley and Luggage Point. We’re reducing our operating costs and helping the environment by using a more sustainable energy source so it’s a win/win.”

Aside from reducing costs and the accompanying environmental benefits, Hartley said Number 2 also contributes to awareness around wastewater reuse. 

“It’s a great conversation starter. We have three cogeneration units — one at Oxley and two at Luggage Point. In the past five years, we’ve more than doubled the amount of electricity we produce from poo,” she said. 

“It’s a great example of sewage treatment plants becoming more like resource recovery centres where we’re exploring the most efficient ways to turn waste into a valuable resource, such as electricity. 

“We recognise the value in a range of by-products recovered from the sewage treatment process, including energy, recycled water, nutrients and biosolids. We’re also researching greener ways to treat wastewater using fewer chemicals and less energy at our Innovation Precinct.”

Hartley said Number 2 will soon be hitting the Brisbane streets alongside Australia’s first poo-powered car, which Urban Utilities launched in 2017.

“Look out for our team driving around town — if the car’s eye-catching design doesn’t give it away, the ‘Number 2’ registration plates sure will,” Hartley said.

“Those who want an up close and personal look at our poo fleet can view the cars at the upcoming Green Heart Fair sustainability festival in Chermside on May 30.”