In-use fuel economy of hybrid-electric school buses in Iowa

Shauna Hallmark, Bob Sperry, Abhisek Mudgal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although it is much safer and more fuel-efficient to transport children to school in buses than in private vehicles, school buses in the United States still consume 822 million gal of diesel fuel annually, and school transportation costs can account for a significant portion of resourceconstrained school district budgets. Additionally, children in diesel-powered school buses may be exposed to higher levels of particulates and other pollutants than children in cars. One solution to emission and fuel concerns is use of hybrid-electric school buses, which have the potential to reduce emissions and overall lifecycle costs compared with conventional diesel buses. Hybridelectric technologies are available in the passenger vehicle market as well as the transit bus market and have a track record indicating fuel economy and emissions benefits. This paper summarizes the results of an in-use fuel economy evaluation for two plug-in hybrid school buses deployed in two different school districts in Iowa. Each school district selected a control bus with a route similar to that of the hybrid bus. Odometer readings, fuel consumption, and maintenance needs were recorded for each bus. The buses were deployed in 2008 and data were collected through May 2010. Fuel consumption was calculated for each school district. In Nevada, IA, the overall average fuel economy was 8.23 mpg for the hybrid and 6.35 mpg for the control bus. In Sigourney, IA, the overall average fuel economy was 8.94 mpg for the hybrid and 6.42 mpg for the control bus. The fuel consumption data were compared for the hybrid and control buses using a Wilcoxon signed rank test. Results indicate that fuel economy for the Nevada hybrid bus was 29.6% better than for the Nevada control bus, and fuel economy for the Sigourney hybrid bus was 39.2% higher than for the Sigourney control bus. Both differences were statistically significant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)504-510
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Air and Waste Management Association
Volume61
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2011

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