American University Goes Biodiesel

AU Shuttle Bus_optFrom our good friends at American University:

After 13 years of planning, the green dream of biodiesel buses at American University is now reality, as AU’s entire fleet of nine shuttle buses are set to run on biodiesel. Transportation Manager Alef Worku and his team have been working towards this goal ever since it was first proposed in 1999. The shuttles will start with B5 fuel and gradually transition to B20; the number represents the percent of biofuel used in the biodiesel mixture. Tri-Gas and Oil will deliver the fuel to a thousand gallon storage tank located by the Osborn Building. “We’ve passed a big hurdle,” says Worku, “which is getting the tank.”

Using biodiesel was a radical idea thirteen years ago. As Worku explained, however, after a standard for the fuel was developed, people started accepting it as an alternative fuel source. AU’s first biodiesel vehicle was a smaller maintenance vehicle, and it was quickly apparent that the engine ran well without the unpleasant smell usually associated with diesel engines. The decision then was made to convert the entire fleet to biodiesel. Conveniently, no changes needed to be made to the engines themselves, although engine filters do have to be changed more frequently. This is worth the effort, as the use of B20 fuel will cut 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions from the shuttles, getting closer to AU’s 2020 carbon neutrality pledge.

In addition to the new fuel, three new buses will be arriving in January that release lower emissions due to new technologies. Furthermore, Transportation Management has a policy of “smart schedules,” with the shuttles running on schedules that closely match demand. Even with the new changes, Worku is already looking for new technologies to make transportation at American University more sustainable. “Fifteen years ago biodiesel was a joke compared to today’s reality,” he said, “Hopefully we will eventually have electric buses where we don’t have to run any engine.” For now, however, AU should be proud of the major accomplishment of shifting to a bus fleet entirely run on biodiesel.

SOURCE: American University


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