Grand Valley State University and Hastings Township have developed a portable recycling center that's powered by renewable energy.

The prototype unit is a fully functional recycling center that can be trucked to rural locations. It is expected to be used in places where curbside recycling pickup is not cost-efficient or where a central transfer station is too far away for residents to make the trip.

"What we've put together, in partnership with Hastings Township officials, is a portable recycling center that can be duplicated and placed in rural and remote locations," said Nick Baine, assistant professor of engineering at Grand Valley. "It's efficient because it runs on solar power and recycled batteries, and minimizes operational costs because township staff can use remote cameras to see exactly when the recycling bins need to be emptied."

The prototype is in the parking lot of Hastings Township Hall.

The unit has four solar panels installed on the roof. The panels allow the center to be completely self-sufficient. The solar panels send power through a system to the bank of batteries inside the unit, which allows lights and security systems to continue to work at night or on cloudy days.

The power bank is made of post-vehicle-application lithium-ion batteries, which are commonly found in newer hybrid and electric vehicles, and can power the recycling center for up to three days without sunshine.

Grand Valley’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center was also part of the project. The GVSU portion of the project has been funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovation Technology Administration University Transportation Centers program, through the Mineta National Transportation Research Consortium with matching funds provided by Grand Valley.

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