Poorly maintained grease traps cost American cities millions of dollars a year in line blockages and breaks. At wastewater treatment plants, greases suffocate the organisms that decompose sewage. By recovering the waste that grease traps catch, Western Michigan University’s Bronco Biodiesel is playing a part in searching for acceptable alternative fuels.
Bronco Biodiesel faculty and students are actively researching the effects of urban sustainability and the use of alternative fuels to:
- reclaim energy from biomass liquid waste streams;
- develop sustainable alternative feedstocks for transportation biofuels;
- show how cities and universities can collaborate with private business to combine environmental clean-up with energy conversion; and
- educate the public about biofuels, waste recovery, and urban energy infrastructure.”
“Right now, WMU is partnering with the City of Kalamazoo to build a municipal-scale production facility at the Kalamazoo Water Reclamation Plant that converts waste food grease into biodiesel,” notes Steve Bertman, professor of chemistry. “The focus is on recovering trap grease from commercial kitchens to convert it into biodiesel that meets all industry and government quality specifications.”
Bronco Biodiesel is powering public transportation in the Kalamazoo area and helping develop greener technologies for biodiesel production.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory says that a 20% blend of biodiesel (B20) will significantly reduce tailpipe emissions (relative to pure biodiesel) accordingly:
30% reduction in carbon monoxide emissions
40% reduction in hydrocarbon emissions
25% reduction in particulate emissions
20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions
20% reduction in sulfur emissions
“We are encouraging the use of biodiesel by local public vehicle fleets and continuously educating the public about the benefits of biofuels, says Sarah Hill associate professor of anthropology and environmental studies. “We also offer research opportunities for Western Michigan University students, both graduate and undergraduate.”