Inside Manchester’s giant gas ‘bubbles’

Ever wondered what it would be like to stand inside Manchester’s huge biogas spheres, which are passed daily by tens of thousands of commuters?

These eerie images are the answer. This is the womb-like atmosphere engineers encountered when entering the huge inflatable bags at Manchester Bioresources Centre recently for an inspection.

The two vast gas bags, not far from the Trafford Centre, are normally filled with biogas which has been generated from sewage arriving at United Utilities’ neighbouring wastewater treatment works. But they were completely emptied to allow expert ‘gastronauts’ to check the inner membrane and make sure it stays fit for the future.

The inspection was part of a programme of maintenance by United Utilities to make sure all its gas bags across the North West are in good health.

The two in Manchester are the company’s largest, helping reduce the company’s carbon footprint by  providing renewable energy to power its largest wastewater treatment works, whilst also supplementing the local gas supply for up to 5,000 homes.

“We call sewage sludge black gold because it’s full of valuable materials. Generating gas it turns the black gold green in a manner of speaking. Very little in the entire process goes to waste,” said Andrew Fishburn from United Utilities Mechanical Engineering team.