April 19, 2010

Imagine frying chicken to fuel a truck, and that's exactly what a team of senior biological and mechanical engineering students are working to develop. The Tiger Truck is a redesigned fire truck that will convert waste vegetable oil to biodiesel. The biodiesel will be used to generate enough power to run the truck. "This truck is a joint discipline project," explains mechanical engineering senior Mike Nguyen, "We are using biological engineering as well as mechanical engineering. It's a lot of work but we have a strong team that is focused."

When complete, the Tiger Truck will be a chemical plant on wheels, broken down into two parts: the biodiesel process and the engine dynamics. The team plans to attract an audience by frying chicken in vegetable oil heated by the Tiger Truck. After serving up a tasty meal, the team will impress the audience by pouring the vegetable oil into two pipes. On one side of the truck, the team shows how vegetable oil can become biodiesel by using biological engineering and on the other side how mechanical engineering can render the same product.

After the waste from the vegetable oil becomes biodiesel, that is then used to move the truck. "It will be really cool to show the spectators how we can start with the same product, vegetable oil, and use two different engineering disciplines to render the same end result," says Scotty Verret, mechanical engineering senior.

The team wrote proposals for funding and received generous donations including $2,000 and a compressor worth $10,000 from Manson Golf, a fire truck from Dularge Fire Department, and $22,000 worth of materials and supplies from the city of Houma.

Tiger Truck team members include engineering seniors: Blake Anderman of Gonzalez, Richard Griffiths of Lake Charles, Brian Lopez-Ona of Baton Rouge, Brandon Ammon of Baton Rouge, Jennifer Craig of Baton Rouge, Paulo Lubag of Kenner, Mike Nguyen of Rosedale, Scotty Verret of Dularge, Chad Champagne of Mandeville, Jennifer Pizzitola of Chalmette, and Logan Hull of Tyler, Texas are all working on the Tiger Truck project. Dr. Murphy is serving as the mechanical engineering advisor and Dr. Boldor is the biological engineering advisor.

The team is looking forward to teaching how fun engineering can be and explaining how cooking tasty food can lead to powering a truck. They want to everyone to see how the process of converting vegetable oil waste to biodiesel works so they are building visible components on the Tiger Truck. "We're going to take the truck to elementary and middle schools to teach the students about this process," explains Richard Griffiths, mechanical engineering senior, "We don't want a boring truck, so after we are done constructing it, we are going to spruce it up with a paint job."

The senior design project is one of the final tests engineering students face before graduating from the College of Engineering.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME) will host the ME 4202 Capstone Design II annual seminar presentation May 4-5, 2010. Mechanical engineering undergraduates worked throughout two semesters on a design project of their choice. Projects are judged by a design panel consisting of local industry leaders and LSU faculty and alumni.

All Mechanical Engineering faculty members, projects sponsors, faculty advisors, alumni, graduate students, Mechanical Engineering undergraduates, and the general public are invited to this event each year. To obtain information for next year’s event, submit an area for research, or to become a judge or sponsor, please contact Dr. Mike Murphy at murphy@me.lsu.edu or Don Eisenberg at eisenberg@lsu.edu.

For information on the Tiger Truck project, the team or how to donate money or resources, visit thetigertruck.com.


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Article by Crystal Jackson, College of Engineering Public Relations Graduate Assistant, 225-578-5706, mlavall@lsu.edu



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