School buses go green
Published 8:46 am Monday, March 23, 2009
By By Lydia Grimes
Brewton City Schools’ big yellow buses are going green.
The school system is making the switch to a biodiesel fuel blend in its transportation fleet, Superintendent Lynn Smith said. In fact, the system was one of only two in the state to receive a grant last week to store the B20 biodiesel blend.
Smith said the biodiesel blend is a cleaner fuel for the school system’s fleet of buses.
The $2,500 state grant — awarded under a program to encourage schools to use the more environmentally friendly fuel — will help Brewton prepare two 1,000-gallon underground fuel storage tanks for B20, a biodiesel fuel blend, which the city plans to use in its 10 buses.
Ozark schools, which already uses B20 in 12 buses, will use a $2,500 grant to prepare one 10,000-gallon and two 1,000-gallon fuel storage tanks for the alternative fuel. Once the tanks are prepared, all of that city’s 42 school buses will run on biodiesel.
B20 is a blend of 80 percent petroleum diesel and 20 percent biodiesel made from renewable energy sources like soybeans, vegetable oil and animal fat. The fuel blend can be used in traditional diesel engines without modifications. However, the biofuel has a solvent effect that may release accumulated sediment from the walls of fuel storage tanks that previously contained diesel. The released deposits can clog fuel filters. The ADECA grants will pay for cleaning the underground fuel storage tanks prior to filling them with biodiesel to ensure that deposits do not pose a problem.
The Energy Division of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants through its Biofuels for Schools program. Grants of up to $2,500 are available to any Alabama public school system to help pay the cost of preparing fuel storage tanks for B20. School systems awarded a grant are required to use B20 in school buses for at least three years and must report the number of gallons of biodiesel used during that period.
The grants are being paid with funds allocated to the state from the U.S. Department of Energy’s oil overcharge fund.