Alternative Fuels

Zonar to aid development of electric school buses

Posted on July 26, 2010

SEATTLE — Zonar and the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have announced a collaborative effort to obtain and use school bus drive cycle data to assist in the development of hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) and battery electric (BEV) school buses.

To appropriately design these school buses, knowledge of school bus usage profiles is needed. To validate the battery requirements for a school bus that can be operated throughout the U.S., it is important to collect school bus usage profiles from as many geographic areas and environmental conditions as possible.

NREL has partnered with Zonar, which can provide research data to facilitate the development of these buses. Adams 12 Five Star Schools in Broomfield, Colo., is already participating in the study by providing NREL access to their Zonar data.

"We encourage our customers to contact us about participating in this important NREL study. To ensure the study's success we are offering to subsidize the additional data sampling costs for our customers who are willing to share their data with NREL," said Don Carnahan, vice president of Business Development for Pupil Transportation at Zonar.

NREL is being funded by the DOE's Vehicle Technology Program to conduct research on HEV, PHEV and BEV school buses, intended to produce lower tailpipe emissions and lower fuel costs for the school bus operators.

These electric drive school buses also could be further refined with the appropriate batteries, and connected to the grid using bi-directional chargers, creating a potential a source of revenue to school districts when plugged in at night and during the summer.

Federal and state grants and/or tax incentives could be offered to school districts and school bus contractors when these vehicles are available for purchase.

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