School’s Grassroots Biodiesel Now Fueling Buses

John Davis

gaston.gifWhat started as a project to brew biodiesel in some old pots from the school cafeteria has turned into a 100,000-gallon-a-year production line that saves the school an estimated $125,000 a year in fuel costs.

This story in the Charlotte (NC) Observer says two years ago, the Gaston County Schools started making their own biodiesel from leftover grease from a local cracker factory, school cafeterias, and local restaurants and is the first school district in the state to make its own fuel:

“Grady [Truett, the schools’ assistant transportation director] came to us and said, `I can make diesel,’ ” said Transportation Director Baxter Starr. Starr smiled in disbelief, but he listened. And he supported the idea.

Starr and schools’ Superintendent Reeves McGlohon are proud of the program — especially because their biodiesel is easier on the lungs of the children who ride Gaston buses, they say.

That was Truett’s original inspiration.

“People might not know this, but school-bus emissions are worse inside the bus than outside,” Truett said. “That small particulate soot goes deep in your lungs. It doesn’t stop at your nose.”

Gaston uses a mix of biodiesel and regular diesel. Running the buses with straight biodiesel requires a lot of filter-changing, and the straight biodiesel thickens at cold temperatures.

The department has taken on the fuel-making without adding extra employees, Starr said. Next year, Starr may ask the administration for another person to run a second production shift.

The article goes on to say that Truett was able to find the biodiesel brewing equipment for cheap on the Internet and through old military surplus and other equipment… saving the district even more.

Now that’s what I call a quality education!