How school buses can save money driving in the cold

School Bus

Drive Green Illinois

Clean School Bus Program

AUTOTHERM is proud to participate in the Illinois, “Clean School Bus Program”.

 Governor Blagojevich and the Illinois EPA have a goal under this program to provide a healthier environment for Illinois school children. To this end the state is subsidizing school districts, through funds from the Illinois EPA, federal grants and corporate sponsorships, by assisting them in replacing buses with cleaner models, retrofitting busses with advanced emission control technology, implementing cleaner fuels and making available equipment that eliminates the need for unnecessary idling.

 AUTOTHERM addresses that last need in the most efficient, least expensive way available in the industry. And, it does it in a manner that allows the driver to remain comfortably in the bus.

 AUTOTHERM is an Energy Recovery System that is manufactured here in Lake Zurich, Illinois. It automatically turns on when the bus ignition is turned off. By continuing to circulate the heated engine coolant through the cab heater, with the heater fan on, the driver will be in a warm environment in the winter and an outdoor ambient environment in the summer without leaving the bus. This is accomplished by replacing the 200+ horsepower engine with a 1/100th horsepower pump that continues to flow the coolant through the system at 3 gallons per minute.

 AUTOTHERM is also manufactured with two protective sensors. Even though AUTOTHERMuses less than 1 amp of power from the battery, it monitors the voltage of the battery and shuts the unit off should the battery reach just above 50% discharge. The battery then still has enough charge to start the vehicle.

 The other sensor monitors the temperature of the coolant. When the coolant reaches 95° F the unit shuts off. This assures that uncomfortable air will not be blown into the cab.

 Another advantage provided by AUTOTHERM is that of Controlled Engine Cool Down. By automatically continuing to circulate the 185° to 212° coolant after the engine is shut down it eliminates the possibility of “hot spots” thereby increasing engine life.

 AUTOTHERM’s success is based on the fact that “an engine not running is not polluting and is burning no fuel”. That then means we are not only protecting our children from dangerous emissions but we are also creating significant fuel savings for the vehicle owner.

 Using some numbers that the state of Illinois provided to us we can establish the following. With 18,500 school buses in service in Illinois, each of which, on average idle unnecessarily 1 ½ hours per day not only can we eliminate approximately 15 – 18% of the time engines would be emitting pollutants but we would also save approximately425 gallons of fuel per vehicle per 9 months.

 425 gallons X 18,500 buses = 7,862,500 gallons of fuel saved per year. At a conservative $2.25 per gallon of diesel fuel that saves the state’s school districts about $17,690,000 per year in fuel expense.

 An installed AUTOTHERM T-2500 Energy Recovery System costs about $600.00 per bus. With the conservative savings outlined above the Payback Period on each unit would be about 6 months.

 Since the buses have an average life span of 10-13 years (the state’s numbers) the units installed on these buses would not only account for approximately $180,000,000 of saved money but they would also account for 5,400,000 non-running, non-polluting engine hours over the life of the fleet.

 The reduction of 5,400,000 engine running hours for these buses equates to a reduction of 49,950,000 lbs of carbon monoxide, 918,000 lbs of nitrous oxide and 13,500 lbs of particulate matter that will not be emitted into the environment during that 9 month period of time (based on DOE and Argonne National Laboratory estimates of emissions for class 7 and 8 trucks divided by a factor of 2).

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