JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Numerous school bus operations around the country are reaping the benefits of powering their buses with biodiesel, according to the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).
Hays (Kan.) Unified School District 489 is one such operation. NBB reported that the district was the first in the state to switch to a biodiesel blend in its 35 buses in 2003. Since then, other Kansas districts have followed suit, and the Kansas State Pupil Transportation Association has demonstrated support for the fuel as well. In June, the association hosted its annual summer symposium and school bus driver safety competition — the buses used in the competition were powered with B20 biodiesel.
Medford Township (N.J.) Public Schools began running its buses on B20 biodiesel in 1997. Joe Biluck, director of operations and technology for the district, said that the fuel has performed well, even in temperatures as low as 11 degrees below zero.
The district has reportedly consumed more than 615,000 gallons of B20 and reduced the overall cost of its fleet operations by $80,000 over 10 years.
Schoolchildren in the Chicago area have ridden biodiesel-powered school buses since 2005. School bus company Cook-Illinois Corp. operates more than 2,000 buses in the area and views biodiesel as a “win-win situation.”
“Students and parents rely on us every day to get their children to and from school safely,” said John Benish Jr., chief operating officer of Cook-Illinois Corp. “Our feeling is why not use a fuel that's better for the environment, better for the students and helps Illinois farmers?”
Finally, The Potomac School in Arlington, Va., uses a biodiesel blend in its 39 buses and in its maintenance equipment. Shop Foreman Dwaine Cunningham said that the fuel’s lubricating qualities have protected the vehicles' injectors.
Biodiesel’s benefits include a reduction in particulate matter, carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons, which contribute to the formation of smog. Biodiesel emissions also reduce potential cancer-causing compounds by 80 to 90 percent, according to NBB.
Moreover, biodiesel is nontoxic and biodegradable, and the fuel is compatible with any diesel engine, requiring few or no modifications.