More school buses go green

BRADENTON — More eco-friendly yellow buses will soon be rolling through the streets of Bradenton, Manatee County School District officials announced Thursday.

That’s because the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the National Clean Diesel Campaign have awarded a $150,000 grant to the district to install diesel catalytic mufflers on 141 of its 212 buses.

“It’s a good deal,” said Don Ross, the district’s associate director of vehicle maintenance. “On some of the older buses when they go down the road you see the burnt soot and oil, the black smoke, so the new mufflers will reduce emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and unburned fuel and oil.”

The new mufflers will be installed late next month and go on buses purchased during or before 2003.

District buses built and purchased after that year — 71 of them — already have clean diesel emission systems, Ross said.

The new mufflers will work similar to a catalytic converter on a car. As exhaust gas passes over the catalyst material, a chemical exchange occurs and the harmful emissions are oxidized into oxygen and water.

The installation process is expected to take about one hour per bus, Ross said. Ring Power, a local Caterpillar dealer, will install them, said Mike Barber, a district spokesman.

In 2005, the district became the first in Florida to convert its buses and other diesel-powered vehicles to BioDiesel fuel. Then in 2007, it became the first school district in the country to incorporate hybrid buses into its fleet under the Plug-In Hybrid School Bus Project.

“Once again, we are excited about helping to lead the way when it comes to not only providing our students and staff with the safest mode of transportation, but also transportation that produces the cleanest emissions and provides the latest technologies,” Ross said.