By Amy Woolf
School buses in one school district in Michigan have been running on B20 (20% biodiesel) since 2002, and since that time, the bus maintenance team has noticed a major improvement in the health of the buses’ moving parts. Recently a St. John’s district school bus completed its 300,000th mile, a feat never before achieved in a Michigan school district.
Engines that are fueled by biodiesel are able to go longer between oil changes. The mechanics in St. John have been able to go from changing the oil every 6,000 miles to 12,000-18,000 miles. This saves the school district money on oil and filters. These savings are due to the biodiesel lubricating the moving parts in an engine better than average diesel fuel.
Using biodiesel not only improves the health of the school buses, the students and the drivers of the buses also stand to benefit from vehicles running on biodiesel. Using biodiesel has been proven to have fewer harmful emissions than regular diesel. Its health benefits have been recorded from its use in mines across the United States, miners’ respiratory health has improved with the use of biodiesel. In fact, school districts using biodiesel have reported fewer students complaining of headaches and fewer missed school days. Students that are riding in a school bus running average diesel are exposed to exhaust levels that are higher than the level considered to pose a cancer risk. The diesel exhaust levels recorded inside a running school bus are 23 – 46 times higher then the level identified to pose a cancer risk.
Overall using biodiesel in school buses has a positive environmental impact, a positive health impact, and a positive financial impact. It stands to reason that more school systems should consider the switch to biodiesel.