Saturday, August 16, 2008
Royalty and human waste
Royalty, and perhaps a few jobs, are headed to Flint.
The city is teaming up with Swedish Biogas International to build a plant that will convert human waste — also known as poop — from the city's wastewater facility into biogas for use as vehicle fuel, heat and electricity.
"We are looking to start a business here in Flint," said Peter Unden, CEO of Swedish Biogas. "We want to take a successful first step in the U.S. market."
Apparently, when Sweden sets up a new biogas facility, they take it very seriously. King Carl XVI Gustaf is expected to visit Kettering University on Sept. 26 during his two-day swing through the state, according to Kettering Provost Michael Harris.
Note to King: Dude, do NOT wear that outfit on the streets of Flint unless you're prepared to use that ceremonial sword.
"State officials have been tight-lipped on the king's travel itinerary, but Harris said plans are underway for a ceremony that will feature Gov. Jennifer Granholm as well as other state and local dignitaries," reports Bryn Mickle of The Flint Journal. "Although the king is slated to talk with Detroit automakers during his visit, Harris said Flint is his main destination."
The U.S. Ambassador to Sweden is a former Flintoid named Michael Wood. He was instrumental in helping his old hometown land the biogas project.
"I think he always had Flint in his heart," Lennart Johansson, the Detroit consulate general of Sweden, told Joe Lawlor of The Flint Journal.
Clearly, this is just the first step to catching up with Sweden in terms of alternative energy use.
"Linköping, the fifth-largest city in Sweden, now operates public buses and trash-collecting trucks, as well as a train line and some private taxis on biogas [made] from methane produced from the entrails of slaughtered cows," writes Edward M. Gomez on sfgate.com. "Similarly, Stockholm's central station is planning to harness the body warmth of 250,000 daily commuters to produce heating for a nearby office block. The body heat would warm up water that would in turn be pumped through pipes over to a new office block."
And let's remember that while a visit from European royalty is rare, it's not the first time. Flint Expatriate Gerry Godin has a nice post at All Things Buick on King Michael I of Romania's visit to Flint, where he checked out some Buick engines (see photo below) before holing up in Augie's Garden Glow bar across from the factory for nearly eight hours.
Just kidding on the Augie's part.