It’s almost difficult to make headlines these days with a “first-ever” in the hybrid department, since it’s the buzzword of the moment. But there indeed has been another first-ever: the conversion of a traditional school bus to a hydraulic hybrid that runs on recycled biofuel. Ford has partnered with George Tech on the Green Eco School Bus, the first of its kind in the nation.
The program has been financed by a $50,000 Ford College Community Challenge Grant, one of five given annually for a student-led project that matches university resources with an urgent community need related to sustainability. And you know global sustainability is near and dear to the heart of Ford as part of its “Reduce, reuse and recycle” commitment.
“Together with Georgia Tech and Atlanta Public Schools, we are taking innovation from the classroom to the community,” said Jim Vella, President, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “This is a noteworthy example of the types of programs we are bringing to Atlanta as part of our new Operation Goodwill partnership with local Ford and Lincoln dealers with the goal of expanding our engagement with this community.”
Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services works with community partners to advance driving safety, education and American heritage and community life. It has been in existence for more than 60 years with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company.
The bus project focuses on converting existing school buses to hydraulic hybrids, which could lower greenhouse emissions and reduce transportation costs for schools. Michael Leamy, Georgia Tech Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and his students have designed and developed the hydraulic hybrid system for the 16-passenger school bus, and its installation is nearly complete. Meanwhile, students at Mary Lin Elementary School are painting the Green Eco School Bus green and organizing a drive to collect used cooking oil for processing into biodiesel, a renewable energy source.
“We expect our research will lead to cleaner, more efficient school buses that will help school districts like APS significantly reduce fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions,” Michael added.