It’s been generating headlines around the world, but Australia’s “poo-powered car” is a crock of sh…INOLA.
The only innovation in the car comes straight from Mitsubishi, in the form of its electric i-MiEV, which you can purchase from a Mitsubishi dealer here. The only creativity in the entire car is in the plastic that wraps it.
When we reviewed the i-MiEV in 2016, we damned it with faint praise, suggesting that it was “good for something.”
It’s true that the electricity used to power the car comes solely from electricity generated in a plant that captures methane from human waste, but it’s hard to understand the point when the Queensland Urban Utility (QUU) is taking additional steps to power a car that has very little use outside of the most basic transportation.
Grand Junction in Colorado cut out the middleman by using human waste as a power source since 2015, but instead of converting it to electricity to motivate an underpowered, undesirable car, it uses resident effluent to create a renewable natural gas, and then pumps that directly into a fleet of 40 vehicles including street sweepers, transit buses and dump (HA!) trucks.
If you want to find an car actually powered by feculence, you can go all the way back to 1971 when instead of a tiger in his tank, a British chicken farmer named Harold Bate put a turd in his Tin Lizzie.
Bate wanted to utilize the mountains of chicken ejectamenta his flock produced for something other than keeping the neighbors from dropping (RIMSHOT!) by on a Saturday evening.
He invented a converter that recycled excreta — either from chickens or from his own family — into methane gas by fermenting it for a week. He created a carburetor called the Bate Auto Gas Converter, which is essentially the same kind of high-pressure carburetor you’d use if you wanted to convert a conventional gasoline-powered car to use propane. The City of Grand Junction is doing the same thing today.
In any case, the attention the Queensland Urban Utility has received far outweighs the innovation. To you, QUU, we say that for the publicity you’ve received, it’s time to do your duty.