Biodiesel as a Sustainable Alternative to Petroleum Diesel in School Buses

EPA Grant Number: SU832488
Title: Biodiesel as a Sustainable Alternative to Petroleum Diesel in School Buses
Investigators: Ferro, Andrea , Ghosh, Anirban , Gonyo, Erica A. , Matis, Hope , Powers, Susan E. , Rossner, Alan , Williams, Matthew R.
Current Investigators: Ferro, Andrea , Bhayani, B. , Brown, J. , Buonocore, J. , Folsom, J. , Ghosh, Anirban , Gonyo, Erica A. , Haley, J. , Hoffman, L. , Hou, S. , Jachuck, Roshan , Johnston, S. , Kipp, M. , Knox, E. , Lessard, Z. , Lewis, S. , Matis, Hope , McCarter, C. , Moll, A. , Moore, H. , Murphy, M. , Narula, R. , Powers, Susan E. , Quinn, M. , Repholz, M. , Ricks, B. , Rossner, Alan , S. Gorton, R. Plattner; , Schreiner, C. , Shandilya, K. , Sheng, X. , Tushaj, M. , Williams, Matthew R. , Zheng, H.
Institution: Clarkson University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2005 through May 30, 2006
Project Amount: $9,588
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Energy , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Diesel exhaust is potentially harmful to human health and is a significant air pollutant due to its composition of harmful chemical substances and impact on climate. One of the many current uses of diesel fuel in rural environments is in school buses; however, few studies have examined children's exposure to diesel exhaust in rural environments. The objective of this study is to conduct a feasibility study to examine the use using of locally produced biodiesel as an alternative replacement fuel for the school buses as well as complete a systematic evaluation of the range of children's exposure to diesel and biodiesel exhaust emissions from school buses in a cold climate in rural northern New York State. Biodiesel has been chosen as the desired sustainable alternative fuel in this study because it is a renewable resource, reduces emissions, produces emissions with less toxic components, and can be locally produced, thereby creating jobs resulting in an economic benefit to the region. Exposure to the diesel emissions will be estimated by monitoring concentrations on and near the school buses at the school. The monitoring will also assess both petroleum and biodiesel emissions directly, and mathematical modeling will be conducted to compare the effects of diesel fuel vs. biodiesel fuel on human exposure. The investigation to determine if biodiesel will have a notable impact on the economic development of this region will be done via an economic analysis, referencing a recent Life Cycle Assessment for biodiesel and development of a selection matrix in order to compare the benefits and drawbacks of using either fuel. The results of using biodiesel as an alternative fuel will affect both the present generation as well as future. Improvements will include the reduction of adverse health effects seen from diesel exhaust emissions, economic development of the northern New York region, a decrease in the dependence on diminishing oil resources, reduction of greenhouse gases, and the ability to locally produce a renewable cost effective fuel. With successful funding from the P3 grant, this diesel/biodiesel study will be presented to local decision makers and used as a project-based learning tool at Clarkson University where it will be incorporated into semester projects and lecture course material.

Supplemental Keywords:

rural development, particulates, exposure, air, mobile sources, cold regions,, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Sustainable Industry/Business, Sustainable Environment, Health Risk Assessment, Technology, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Children's Health, Environmental Policy, Environmental Engineering, Risk Assessment, air pollutants, air toxics, petroleum alternative, diesel exhaust, Human Health Risk Assessment, biotechnology, alternative fuel, pollution prevention

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report