DALLAS — Last week, Dallas County Schools (DCS) unveiled its “Fryer Flyer,” a school bus with twin fuel systems — one that carries biodiesel and one that carries waste vegetable oil (WVO).
The bus was built with factory stock items by DCS technicians and includes a computerized switch to maximize fuel efficiency based on engine temperature. The construction of the bus is one facet of the county school district’s plan to convert from operating diesel-powered school buses to ones that run on bio-fuel by developing its own, homegrown fuel source.
DCS President Larry Duncan and the DCS Board of Trustees set alternative fuels as a priority in 2007. “Fuel prices are skyrocketing and air pollution is choking our children,” Duncan said. “Fuel price increases are hurting everyone, from filling your car at the pump to the taxes you pay so our children can take the bus to school. In addition to fouling the atmosphere, tests show that diesel pollution concentrates inside a bus. We are attacking both problems by shifting to bio-fuels.”
Working with Two Podners Restaurant, Frito Lay and an assortment of other food manufacturers, DCS is collecting WVO that has been used to fry foods and is no longer fit for human consumption. This oil is the basis of the district’s alternative diesel fuel program.
While others have used virgin food oil to produce biodiesel, DCS has gone a step further, developing a system that will enable a bus to run on straight WVO. The Fryer Flyer had been in testing for more than a year and a half, and the test phase was recently completed.
Until buses can be converted to this system, all DCS diesel buses are running on biodiesel made from donated waste oil at DCS' facility in Kleberg County.
Of the approximately 1,600 school buses in the fleet, 55 percent are diesel-powered. The other half of the fleet, which was formerly powered by gasoline, is now running on natural gas.