Propane Autogas Buses Offer Clean Ride to School

propane-vision-mb1A school district in Indiana this month is rolling out the state’s largest deployment of propane autogas school buses, giving the students a cleaner ride to school and saving taxpayer dollars. The Metropolitan School District of Warren Township will start using 11 Blue Bird Propane Vision buses purchased through dealer MacAllister Transportation, including 10 78-passenger models and one bus outfitted with a wheelchair lift.

“Better cold weather starts, lower maintenance and fuel cost, quieter buses, as well as better air quality for students, the bus driver and our community were the reasons we chose propane autogas,” said Steve Smith, director of transportation for M.S.D. Warren Township. “With the fuel’s clean operation, we anticipate longer maintenance intervals and lower periodic maintenance cost.”

The new Blue Bird Propane Vision buses replace older diesel models. A propane autogas fuel system manufactured by ROUSH CleanTech powers each bus.

Historically, propane autogas costs about 50 percent less than diesel per gallon and reduces maintenance costs due to its clean-operating properties. To fuel the buses, M.S.D. Warren Township installed two onsite autogas fuel stations with 1,000-gallon capacity each. “Our drivers will feel more confident taking the longer routes and field trips by having fuel conveniently located and available around the clock,” Smith said.

“M.S.D. Warren Township joins over 500 other districts nationwide experiencing the benefits of propane autogas technology: lowering operating costs, maintenance costs and emissions,” said Brian Carney, group account director for ROUSH CleanTech.

The fleet of propane autogas buses is expected to lower nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 13,600 pounds and particulate matter by about 350 pounds each year compared with the diesel buses they replaced.

Olympia School District Goes to School with Propane

Olympia-Schools-Propane-Bus1-X2Stanford, Illinois students are traveling around town in school buses fueled by propane. The Olympia Community Unit #16 School District, a rural district covering 377 square miles, converted to propane-fueled buses to meet the district’s needs for reliable, lower-cost buses. The school buses travel an average of 20,000 miles per year.

According to John Olsen, assistant superintendent for Olympia, the district tested propane with two school buses and now has 12- nearly one-third of their 33 bus fleet. The remaining buses run on diesel fuel. He estimates each bus saves the district $2,500 per year in fuel and maintenance and is expected to serve the district for 10 years. He figures that the buses will save the school district $300,000 over the 10-year life of the buses.

According to information about propane autogas, propane engines do not require diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) and diesel particulate filters, and oil consumption can be reduced as much as 50 percent, making propane powered buses less expensive to operate and maintain. Propane fuel costs, currently lower than diesel fuel, make up the difference and more.

The savings are not the only benefit of the propane buses, says Olsen who notes they are also quiet and cleaner-burning. “I love the fact that when our buses pull up to the schools at the beginning or end of the day, we’re not sitting there creating a cloud of fumes right outside the school,” he added.

Evergreen FS, based in Bloomington, IL works closely with Olsen to supply the fuel. They also set up and continuously service and maintain the four 1,000 gallon propane tanks on-site. Typically the storage onsite provides a seven to eight day supply of propane. Olsen and the school district will continue to work with Evergreen FS, a member cooperative of GROWMARK, who keep him up-to-date on technical advances that will make the fleet even more cost efficient over time.

Propane Council Unveils Farm Safety Site for Kids

PERCouramazingfarmA new website is giving kids more information about how to be safe around propane on the farm. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) unveiled the interactive site – propanekids.com/agsafety – that includes fun and educational videos, science experiments, and activities aimed at children ages 12 and under.

Our Amazing Farm,” the latest addition to the PropaneKids.com site, features a series of entertaining 5-minute science experiment videos to support PERC’s national agricultural safety initiative. The video series, titled “Science Rocks,” is designed to engage young minds while providing a resource grounded in science to be used by both parents and educators.

The videos explain fundamental principles relating to propane, a ubiquitous energy source in rural America. Other features of “Our Amazing Farm” include hands-on, age-appropriate, interactive activities that teach kids about grain bin safety, fire extinguishers, static electricity management, and other important topics. The videos use common household items – and the site offers printable instructions – to enable teachers and parents to share the lessons at school or home.

Developed by PERC with funding from CHS Inc., the national agricultural safety program promotes the videos and e-learning elements with the aim to improve safety on America’s farms. All components are available free of charge and are directly accessible by educators, the public, and any organization wishing to offer the tools through their own websites.

“We expect these videos to become valuable tools for kids, families, businesses, and schools to help prevent accidents and improve safety around the farm,” said Stuart Flatow, PERC’s vice president of safety and training.

Propane Expands Production, Use Options

nafb-15-percPropane is expanding in production and the options for its use. During the recent National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) convention in Kansas City, Missouri, Cindy caught up with Cinch Munson from the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) who said that there are 102.4 million barrels of propane in storage right now – a nearly 30 percent increase from a year ago. He credited strong production and a mild grain-drying season for the big inventories right now.

“We’re most of the way through harvest, and most of the grain that has come in is pretty dry,” he said, adding a possibly warm winter ahead could make the situation even better for consumers. “Propane prices right now are very good. So it’s a really good time for rural homeowners and ag operation owners to consider what they should do about this.”

Munson said new propane engines offer lots of advantages, especially in the ag markets. He added the positive supply outlook for propane and its domestic, environmentally friendly profile, as well as more machinery running on the fuel, make propane a great choice. Munson said consumers should talk to their local dealers or go to PERC’s website for more information.

“You really owe it to yourself to look at what’s out there.”

Cinch Munson, Propane Education and Research Council

Tier 4 Regulations Could Give Propane, CNG Boost

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published its final Tier 4 regulations that affect heavy duty vehicles, construction equipment and agriculture equipment. Past Tier 4 emission standards have decreased particulate matter and NOx levels over time and it’s is now on engine manufacturers to refine engines to further reduce Nitrogen Oxide emissions that enter into the air. Unless of course, you are already developing engines for alternative vehicles such as those fueled by propane and compressed natural gas (CNG).

CK Power Tier 4 Emission Regulations InfographicSt. Louis-based, family owned CK Power has waded through the EPA’s guidelines and packed everything into an easily digestible infographic. The CK Power team says the new standards are a big deal for engine manufactures since they will need to produce engines that meet the standards. However, the new emission standards don’t necessarily affect engine manufacturers who pursue alternative technologies since these emissions standards are for off-road equipment only – including ag equipment. CK Power is a source of engine and generator power and has published a brief guide on how their customers can be in compliance with the EPA’s final Tier 4 emission standards.

“The EPA has regulated on-road diesel engine applications for even longer than it has regulated non-road applications,” explains the CK Power team. “These are, however, separate from final Tier 4 regulations, which apply specifically to non-road applications. That’s not to say that no vehicles are affected. Farm tractors, excavators and other types of construction earth movers are affected by final Tier 4 standards since these are classified as non-road engines.

“That is unless those vehicles make use of propane or CNG as their main fuel source. Final Tier 4 emission standards apply only to diesel engines.”

Maryland Students Off to School with Propane

Jubbs Blue Bird ROUSH CleanTech Bus1Some students in Maryland are making their way to school on a bus fueled by propane autogas. Anne Arundel County students boarded the first school bus fueled by propane autogas in the state of Maryland when the Blue Bird Vision Propane bus, from contractor Jubb’s Bus Service, Inc., went into operation.

“With the rising costs of diesel maintenance and our interest in incorporating green technologies, it was time to explore our options,” said Randall Jubb, president of Jubb’s Bus Service, Inc. “We are the first contractor in Maryland to offer a school bus fueled by emissions-reducing propane autogas to an area school district — and we have plans to transition 20 percent of our fleet to autogas in the future.”

The new Blue Bird Type C bus, equipped with a Ford 6.8L V10 engine, replaces an older diesel bus. A propane autogas fuel system manufactured by ROUSH CleanTech powers the bus.

Historically, propane autogas costs about 50 percent less than diesel per gallon and reduces maintenance costs due to its clean-operating properties. Currently, Jubb’s Bus Service, Inc., pays almost 45 percent less for propane autogas compared with diesel.

Sharp Energy installed an onsite autogas fuel station with 1,000-gallon capacity. The infrastructure can expand to 4,000 gallons as the need arises.

“We are proud to partner with a forward-thinking company like Jubb’s Bus Service, Inc.,” said Brian Carney, group account director for ROUSH CleanTech. “They’re joining over 500 other school districts nationwide experiencing the benefits of propane autogas technology: lowering operating costs, maintenance costs and emissions.”

The bus is expected to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 1,200 pounds and more than 30 pounds of particulate matter each year compared with the diesel bus it is replacing.

Propane Council Donates $30K for Propane Buses

With a growing movement to transport children in buses fueled by propane, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) has begun a campaign to teach communities about the benefits of propane-powered transportation that include improved health. Today more than 7,000 buses across the U.S. are currently using the fuel and in an effort to see this number continue to rise, PERC is partnering with journalist and former teacher Jenna Bush Hager and the nonprofit Adopt a Classroom to donate more than $30,000 to teachers at schools adopting propane buses.

Jenna Bush Hager rides with students to Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in celebration of their adoption of cleaner, safer propane school buses. (Photo: Propane Education & Research Council)

Jenna Bush Hager rides with students to Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in celebration of their adoption of cleaner, safer propane school buses. (Photo: Propane Education & Research Council)

“It’s clear when you talk to school administrators and transportation departments that they are saving more than just dollars and cents by going with propane buses,” said Hager. “The switch is improving their school as a whole and giving them the opportunity to invest in more teachers or school programs.”

PERC’s donation will assist teachers at seven schools this fall, including Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in Massachusetts; Kyrene Monte Vista in Arizona; Broward Education Foundation in Florida; Wilkes Elementary in Oregon; Five Star Education Foundation in Colorado; St. Francis Elementary in Minnesota; and Friendswood Jr. High in Texas.

Hager surprised teachers at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in Boston with the news they would receive a total of $10,000 from PERC to purchase supplies for their classroom. Boston Public Schools is the first district in the city to switch from diesel to propane buses. Today, the transition from diesel to propane buses has been reported in 20 of the top 25 designated market areas, and four of the 10 largest school districts in the country are using them.

“As a former teacher and parent, I know that the school day begins and ends on the bus,” added Hager. “When we give our kids a safer, healthier start to the day, it can improve their entire experience in the classroom and at home, too.”

Propane Autogas Saves Money

Propane-Autogas-event-at-Prairieland-FS1Local municipalities, school districts and fleets are all saving money thanks to propane autogas. This news release from GROWMARK says Prairieland FS, Inc. based in Jacksonville, Illinois, taught local entities about the benefits of the fuel at an educational summit.

City of Springfield Director William McCarty, Office of Budget and Management and Mike Palazzolo, Fleet Manager shared their experience in converting 64 vehicles to propane autogas. According to McCarty the city has already realized a fuel savings of $100,000 over and above savings in maintenance and repairs. Prairieland FS supplies the city with propane and assisted with propane infrastructure – including design and installation of a new propane filling station.

Josh Olsen, assistant superintendent with Olympia Schools in McLean and Tazewell counties, shared his experience with propane powered school buses. Total cost of ownership, including reduced fuel expense and up to 50 percent reduced oil consumption, saves his school district money. The ability to start up faster than diesel vehicles in cold temperatures, cleaner exhaust, improved performance and quieter operation, make the propane powered buses popular with drivers, students and parents alike.

Industry representatives at the event included Central States Bus Sales, Icom North America, Dealers LP, Ray Murray, and the Illinois Propane Gas Association.

Tonya Crow, Energy Department manager, and the staff of Prairieland FS organized the event and showcased a number of propane vehicles and items at their office in Jacksonville. “We are pleased to bring this technology to local schools, municipalities and fleets knowing we can help them save money when budgets are tight,” explained Crow.

As Temps Cool, Propane Supplies Hit Record

Just in time for winter heating and agriculture crop drying seasons, the supplies of propane hit record levels in the U.S. This U.S. Energy Information Administration report says inventories of propane and propylene reached 97.7 million barrels as of September 11, the highest level in the 22 years.
sept15propaneeia
During the first six months of 2015, production of propane at natural gas plants was 31.3 million barrels, or 172,000 barrels per day (b/d), higher than during the first half of 2014. Exports increased by 33.3 million barrels (182,000 b/d) over the same period.

In the United States, propane is mainly used for space heating and as a feedstock for petrochemical plants, as well as for drying agricultural crops. Relatively small amounts of propane are also used for fueling vehicles. Its heating and agricultural uses make propane consumption highly seasonal and weather dependent, rising in the fall and peaking in the winter. In addition to heating and agricultural use, propane is used by petrochemical plants to produce ethylene and propylene, key building blocks for the manufacturing of chemicals and plastics. Petrochemical propane consumption has little seasonality but can vary significantly based on plant operations.

Traditionally, propane and propylene stocks increase from the start of April to the end of September, and they are drawn down from October to March, when agricultural and heating demands increase. In 2015, inventories began increasing in mid-February, more than six weeks earlier than the historical average.

EIA expects propane and propylene inventories to begin the October heating season at record levels, reaching a high of 99.1 million barrels at the end of September.

ROUSH Offers Ford E-450 Extended Range

Flint MTA F-450ROUSH CleanTech is now offering a Ford E-450 extended range fuel tank fueled by propane autogas. The larger fuel tank, with 64 gallons of fuel, now holds 56 percent more fuel than the standard option. The truck will begin shipping in October.

“We listened to our paratransit customers who wanted the Ford E-450 chassis, yet also needed more autogas fuel capacity,” said Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech. “With this extended range fuel tank, we offer the longest driving range for this model — plus an extended warranty for those customers.”

Built on Ford’s 6.8-liter V10 engine, the Ford E-450 with extended range fuel system comes with an extended 5-year, 100,000-mile warranty exclusively for the transit industry.

ROUSH CleanTech Ford E-450s are California Air Resources Board and Environmental Protection Agency compliant and have completed Federal Transit Administration’s New Model Bus Testing Program (“Altoona Testing”). Altoona-tested vehicles can be purchased using a transit agency’s FTA funds.