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Shell to make fuel from cow manure

Shell has announced its intention to begin making a low-carbon fuel based partly on cow manure.

While it may seem an unlikely fuel source, cow manure, like many other organic matters, tends to produce methane as it rots. Normally, this would leak into the atmosphere and act as a greenhouse gas, but Shell wants to use it as a fuel for heavy vehicles.

Shell has committed to reducing its carbon emissions—and it offers a carbon neutral range of lubricants, including gear oil and grease for the wind power sector—so offering a carbon neutral alternative to liquefied natural gas (LNG) will help it meet this goal.

The company intends to start making the new biomethane LNG at the Godorf plant at its Rheinland site, which is one of the biggest oil-processing facilities in Europe. According to Altas Consulting Director Seyhan Turan, who works with the UK government’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, among other clients, such a fuel is particularly good for heavy vehicles. He added:

“LNG has one of the most energy-intensive processes across the oil and gas sector. Biomethane LNG is perfect for heavy-duty vehicles and maritime transport.”

Shell intends to take cow manure that would normally rot on farms and use it instead to make biomethane, which would in turn be mixed with fuel made from natural gas to produce the carbon neutral end product. Trucks using the fuel would then be able to travel over 900 miles before refuelling. The company says it is now considering building or buying biomethane plants.

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