Seniors Demonstrate Projects
A hydraulic press that converts paper waste into fuel briquettes was one of four senior projects showcased this week in the Engineering Technology department. The student designers said a similar process could be used in a future co-generation facility on campus and make productive use of shredded paper that both NMU and Marquette General Hospital currently pay to have hauled away—most of which can’t be recycled.
Shredded paper mixed with an algae-water solution is compressed in a cylinder, removing the liquid and forming a round briquette a few inches thick.
“This would provide an alternative fuel source from something that’s readily available,” said Jonathan Laue, pictured on the left with fellow senior Nicholas Owens. “Instead of letting the paper take up space in a landfill and leave a carbon footprint, it could be burned in the plant that’s hopefully coming to Northern. The goal is that something like this will be implemented on a larger scale. I’m an alternative energy minor, so it’s great to be able to step into the field after graduation with a project like this under my belt.”
The hydraulic press was an interdisciplinary effort. Julie Hoffman, a licensed engineer and consultant from Marquette, made a manual press and approached Mike Rudisill (Engineering Technology) about challenging students to automate the system for possible use in the solid fuel boiler. In order to determine which composition of algae water had the most thermal energy, students in Mike Martin’s alternative energies class worked with Hoffman and Suzanne Williams (Chemistry) to find the calories, or joules, per mass in the different types of briquettes using the Chemistry department’s bomb calorimeter.
The remaining senior projects presented were: a “DeDuster “ prototype design for a local entrepreneur; completion of a new hybrid Baja vehicle suspension; and an interface upgrade that adds the solar output to the live feed from the Engineering Technology Alternative Energies Lab.