August 22nd, 2005

A Match Made with Biodiesel

The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium, headquartered at West Virginia University, showcased its training and education outreach program recently as School Transportation administrators and staff from throughout West Virginia came to Morgantown for the 63rd Annual State School Transportation Conference on July 24-27. Administrators, fleet managers and technicians received information and training on many transportation topics, but the hottest topic this year was alternative fuels, and more specifically biodiesel.

NAFTC staff members Randall Levelle, Judy Moore and Rich Cregar showcased the NAFTC curriculum during the conference trade show. NAFTC course offerings on the subject of biodiesel were effectively highlighted using a video display.

Over the last few years, a number of West Virginia counties have started using biodiesel as fuel for their school buses. With much success in using the biodiesel, other counties are becoming increasingly curious about this exciting alternative fuel. Monongalia County, home to the NAFTC, has been a leader in using and promoting biodiesel.

Irv Schuetzner, Director of Transportation for Monongalia County Schools, stated that they have been using B-20, a blend of 20% biodiesel & 80% petroleum diesel in their fleet of 100 school buses for two and one-half years. The higher reimbursement incentive to use an alternative fuel is what initially sparked the interest of the Monongalia County School Transportation Department.

Biodiesel school buses

The Monongalia County School Transportation Biodiesel Fleet. NAFTC Photo

When asked his overall opinion of biodiesel, Schuetzner responded, “Our first concern is to the safety and benefit of the school children. We want to make sure as few pollutants as possible are around them. Using biodiesel in the school buses greatly reduces the emissions and it is very low in the soot particulates that harm school children. As the school superintendents learn more about biodiesel, they see that it is also a financial benefit to the counties”.

Technicians at the county maintenance shop also commented that their eyes no longer sting when working on the buses as they had previously when exposed to the diesel exhaust. No problems have been encountered in the bus fuel systems as a result of using B-20. The use of B-20 in comparison to petroleum diesel achieves an average reduction of over 20% of the emission soot, hydro carbons and carbon monoxide. Since biodiesel is a sulphur free fuel, it produces no sulphur emissions.

After the conference, a number of school bus technicians and an administrator extended their stay in Morgantown in order to attend a Biodiesel Workshop which was held July 28 & 29 at the NAFTC West Virginia University headquarters.

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