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  • Eco-Friendly Shuttle Bus

Deep Fried Ride

One of the Roger Williams University shuttle buses runs almost completely on recycled canola oil from the Dining Commons. Here are some of the facts:

Canola Oil Shuttle Conversion Fact Sheet

1997 Ford F-350 Van

  • The converted van now has two fuel tanks; a 55 gallon diesel tank and a 55 gallon canola oil tank. 
  • During the 2006/2007 academic year the van was driven 17,000 miles. 
  • During that one-year period, it burned 2,400 gallons of diesel fuel at a cost of $6,939. This year, we expect to burn only two tanks of diesel fuel (110 gallons) at a cost of only $329.  
  • Obviously, the environmental benefits are that we will be using a renewable, recycled fuel instead of diesel, a petroleum-based fuel. We will use approximately 2,290 FEWER gallons of diesel than we used last year with this same vehicle.  Studies show that burning canola oil rather than diesel releases up to 75% less CO2 into the atmosphere.
  • The result is a shuttle that’s as close to carbon neutral as you can get. The engine still emits some carbon dioxide, but the fuel source originates with canola plants that take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

How It Works
Fried foods from The Commons are deep-fried in 100% canola oil. A few times per week, the used oil is recycled. It is taken from the Commons and is filtered and transported to the Facilities Building at North Campus where it goes through another filtering process and is put into the van’s canola oil tank. This tank has a pre-heater which heats the oil to allow it to flow better.

The vehicle is started at the beginning of the day with diesel fuel. When the temperature of the engine/radiator fluid reaches 161 degrees F (in about 10 minutes), an on-board computer automatically switches from the diesel tank to the canola tank. The vehicle runs all day long on the recycled canola oil. At the end of the day ,when the driver turns the key to the “off” position, the computer switches the fuel source back to the diesel tank and the engine continues to run for about three minutes. The diesel fuel purges all of the canola oil out of the engine and fuel lines to prevent clogging of the system when the canola oil cools and thickens.