School celebrates decade on biodiesel

By | November 13, 2008
Ten years ago, Joe Biluck took a leap of faith. After applying for and receiving a U.S. DOE grant for alternative fuel, he filled a school bus with a blend of what was then a little-known fuel called biodiesel.

"I will admit, I was a little scared that first time," he said. "But when you see an opportunity or a technology that has a lot of potential, and you've done your homework on it, you have to be willing to take a calculated risk for the greater good. Someone has to raise their hand, and why not Medford?"

This fall, the Medford Township School District in New Jersey hosted a commemorative event and educational session celebrating 10 years of using B20. "We transport 3,500 students a day in our buses," said Biluck, director of operations and technology for the Medford Township Board of Education. "This biodiesel program was started for them. It has been proven that biodiesel improves air quality both outside of the bus and in the interior."

Over the past decade the district's school buses have traveled more than 4 million miles, consumed more than 615,000 gallons of B20, displaced more than 123,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and eliminated 127,000 pounds of hazardous emissions and 428 pounds of particulate matter while reducing the overall cost of fleet operations by $80,000 per year, according to Medford Township Public School System officials.

"Medford's public school district serves as a great example to other schools looking to use biodiesel," said Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board chief executive officer. "Joe Biluck has been a tireless advocate for biodiesel use in school buses nationwide and we have been lucky to have his support. It has helped launch the use of biodiesel in an important and sensitive environment-the air around schoolchildren."

Approximately 200 school districts in the United States use biodiesel. Biluck points out to other fleet managers that there are many benefits. "We are helping with energy security by displacing hundreds of thousands of gallons of petroleum diesel fuel and have experienced significant cost savings through reduced maintenance costs in our bus fleet," Biluck said.

The district has been widely recognized for its pioneering efforts with biodiesel. The National Biodiesel Board awarded Biluck its annual Inspiration award in 2005 for his efforts to increase awareness and use of the cleaner-burning fuel. The district received two New Jersey Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards in 2007. Biluck was also named an
Alternative Energy Pioneer by the DOE Clean Cities program.

The anniversary event, featuring local and governmental dignitaries, was held at the Chairville Elementary School in Medford, N.J. Michael Frohlich, NBB's Washington, D.C., director of communications, participated. Other notable participants included Medford Mayor Christopher Myers, members of the U.S. EPA and New Jersey Clean Cities, soybean farmers and schoolchildren from the Medford Township School District.
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