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Welcome

Welcome to Bronco Biodiesel, an initiative of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

We conduct research into, and educate people about, biofuels derived from urban waste streams. Our biofuels don't compete with food production.

Formed in 2006 with generous support from WMU, our mission is to foster urban sustainability and encourage the use of alternative fuels.

To achieve this mission, we seek to:

  • reclaim energy from biomass liquid waste streams
  • develop sustainable alternative feedstocks for transportation biofuels
  • offer a business model for “town-gown” cooperation (to show how cities and universities can collaborate with private business to combine environmental clean-up with energy conversion)
  • educate the public about biofuels, waste recovery, and urban energy infrastructure.

Our Projects in Brief

Biodiesel from waste trap grease

Restaurant plumbing traps intercept millions of gallons of waste food greases a year, across the United States. Federal, state and local environmental codes typically require these greases to be removed from wastewater collection systems and landfilled. As a consequence, this grease currently has no commercial use, and no monetary value. Nonetheless, it contains virtually the same energy content as virgin vegetable oils, and, accordingly, can be converted to biodiesel.

We are in the final stages of optimizing chemical and mechanical processes for converting trap grease into biodiesel that meets all industry and federally-mandated quality, environmental and health standards. We have partnered with a Kalamazoo-area waste grease hauler, to pilot our technology and collect further data.

Our future home for a 100,000 gallon/year biodiesel reactor is the City of Kalamazoo’s Wastewater Reclamation Plant, through a partnership that will enable the city to lower utility maintenance costs, while recovering valuable energy from greases recovered from the urban waste stream.

Bioalcohols from wastewater algae

Algae blooms generated by nutrient run-off and overloading have dramatically altered coastal ecosystems and inland waterways across North America. Through partnerships with government and private industry clean-up initiatives, we are developing processes for converting the hundreds of millions of tons of weedy algae biomass that grows in the United States each year into distilled fuels that can replace petroleum products in gasoline powered engines. This undertaking seeks to link the vital importance of aquatic clean-up to alternative energy development.

Education

We are encouraging the use of biodiesel by local public vehicle fleets and continuously educating the public about the benefits of biofuels. We also offer research opportunities for Western Michigan University students.

Analytic services

We provide competitively priced ASTM quality assurance and control testing of biofuel products to industry.

Benefits of Using Waste Biomass

  • Saves disposal costs
  • Improves the quality of surface waters
  • Protects aging wastewater treatment systems
  • Possesses positive energy outputs compared to virgin biomass fuels
  • Fuel products can be used in existing transportation infrastructure with no modification to vehicles or fueling system
  • Improves local air quality
  • Contributes to energy security and independence

 


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