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Sewage process powers special Tucson

Published:Sunday | December 7, 2014 | 12:00 AMChad Bryan
Contributed A new Hyundai Tucson

Human excrement has taken on a new dimension when used to provide fuel for a version of the 2015 Hyundai Tucson SUV, available in the United States.

In spring, Hyundai leased a fuel-cell version of its Tucson in the US, and owners in South Carolina were able to power their vehicles using processed sewage. The process converts human waste into fuel that powers the hydrogen fuel-cell-equipped vehicles.

A facility in Orange County is experimenting with the complex technology that converts human waste into hydrogen. The process involves separating the solids from water and then feeding them to microbes that produce methane and CO2. Some of that methane gets piped into a tri-generation machine, which can power both the plant and the hydrogen fuel cell.

Drivers of the Tucson with a fuel cell and similar vehicles can go to a public pump from which the hydrogen produced from the fuel cell is accessed.

The Tucson's tank is filled up within three minutes, and the car can then travel for around 300 miles before requiring a refill. There are about 10 of the pumps in the South Carolina.

A major difference between the vehicle and a regular Hyundai Tucson is that there is a little less space behind the rear seats of the fuel-cell-equipped model as it houses the fuel tank.

Hyundai plans to pay the fuel cost of fuel cost for owners of the specially equipped Hyundai Tuscons.