Many people visiting London will usually ditch the car and use public transport, such as the capital’s extensive rail and Tube systems. However, others have come to enjoy the more scenic method of getting about by Thames river ferry.
It will soon be possible to do so both at high speed and in an eco-friendly style. While the idea of whizzing down the river on a speedboat is the sort of thing one might imagine in a James Bond film, or the reality of the 2012 Olympic Opening ceremony as David Beckham brought the torch up the Thames, few might of thought of this as striking a blow for the biofuels industry.
However, that is exactly what Uber Boat, run by Thames Clipper, is planning to do, with its new high-speed services along the Thames between Tower Bridge and Battersea Pier. The first boat will be running in the summer and a second will go into service next year.
The boats, built on the Isle of Wight, will use battery power outside this central zone, but then use biofuel to recharge these batteries. This will mean it does not have to recharge the batteries onshore, so the service can be continual.
Although it will only be running in London to start with, Thames Clipper may be able to extend the service out to Kent after buying Gravesend pier.
The world of fast boats hurtling along the river on one of the world’s most famous cities may seem far removed from the realm of conveyor belt cleaners and other items used to maintain the machine parts used in the devices that convert waste into biofuel.
However, all of these are connected in a key cause: To ensure that the energy Britons use, whether it is to power their own homes, cars on the road or ferries on the Thames, is sustainable and helps make the most of abundant resources without producing excessive carbon or nitrogen oxide emissions.
Co-founder of Uber Boat by Thames Clippers Sean Collins commented: “It’s certainly a first for a high-speed craft in the UK and probably Europe that will be operating solely on batteries for part of its journey.”
With car journeys in London increasing faster than public transport use as motorists aim to socially distance themselves, Mr Collins warned that London’s roads are going to come under more traffic pressure.
Discussing the role the Thames in alleviating this, he added that it will have “a significant part to play in taking vehicles off the road”.
While the Uber Boats may soon reach Kent, scientists in the county are already working on the next developments in Biofuels.
The School of Biosciences at the University of Kent has been constructing bioreactors and engineering bacteria in order to advance research into biofuels.
It has already revealed one breakthrough, details of which have been published in the journals Access Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology. This revealed that a change to one gene could convert sugars into biofuel much more effectively.
This process was effective in helping concert the Clostridium bacteria into Butanol.