Waste not, want not

Aug 19, 2010

Kettering has taken mom's admonition to "waste not, want not" seriously with its new research vehicle - a truck that can run on biomethane gas produced from human waste.

It may be a white Chevy Silverado, but it represents the future of green in Flint.

Kettering University, officials from Swedish Biogas International, Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and others unveiled Flint's first biomethane fuel truck during a ceremony in front of Kettering’s Academic Building on Thursday, Aug. 19.

Students, working with faculty members at Kettering, have converted a 2500HD Chevy Silverado to run on a dual-fuel system.  The vehicle can be powered by biomethane gas, a renewable alternative fuel that will be produced at the new biomethane plant in Flint.

To accomplish this dual-fuel use, Kettering called on one of its alums to help out. Rebecca Royer ’81, owner and president of Baytech Corp., installed a kit in April that allows the biofuel truck to run on both natural gas and gasoline. The natural gas is stored in a tank in the truck bed and is piped into the engine bay, ending at the top of the engine. 

The on-board computer switches automatically between gasoline and natural gas while driving. Because the composition of natural gas and bio-methane are so similar, the truck should run well with bio-methane in the tank instead of natural gas, said student Nolan McCann, research assistant to Brenda Lemke and Dr. Ahmad Pourmovahed, professor of Mechanical Engineering.

Kettering researchers plan to run the vehicle on the bio-methane produced from the Flint Wastewater Treatment Plant and Swedish Biogas project. The Swedish Biogas Project will produce alternative energy from waste removed from the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The project is a collaboration of Swedish Biogas International (SBI), Kettering University, and the city of Flint, with support from the C.S. Mott Foundation, Swedish agencies, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).