UPDATED: Sept. 27, 3:00 p.m.
The Office for Vehicle Maintenance and Support Services is preparing to switch all AU shuttles to biodiesel fuel in November.
A tank and trailer will house the “B20” fuel partially made of vegetable oil. This fuel is 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel, which will make fuel tanks cleaner and more environmentally friendly, according to Mark Feist, assistant director for vehicle maintenance and support services.
“By switching to biodiesel fuel, our emissions will be greatly reduced and there won’t be the tendency to give off the typical diesel black cloud,” he said.
Using eco-friendly fuel in the shuttles supports AU’s Climate Action Plan of achieving carbon neutrality by the year 2020.
“Emissions related to vehicular transportation account for 20 percent of AU’s total greenhouse gas emissions,” said Joshua Kaplan, AU’s sustainability and outreach specialist.
The implementation of biodiesel fuel is expected to lower fueling costs by $20,000 to $30,000 a year, Feist said.
“By buying [the biodiesel fuel] at a bulk rate, we will get a price break by ordering it straight from the distributor,” Kaplan said.
The fuel switch is also expected to cause minimal extra effort on the part of Vehicle Maintenance in terms of storing the fuel.
“The beauty of the bio fuel is that we can apply it right to the buses, we don’t have to buy a different bus to hold the fuel,” said Alex Worku, manager of transportation operations and maintenance for Facilities Management.
Feist said the only issue he foresees is that fuel filters will clog easily, so the fuel tanks will need to be cleaned often and filters changed regularly.
“Since the buses use both diesel and biodiesel, we can always switch back if we have to,” Worku said.
However, preparations have already been made to deal with this issue by using cleaner detergent, Feist said.