MONTGOMERY— School systems in Brewton and Ozark are the first to receive grants from Gov. Bob Riley under a new program to encourage the use of biodiesel in Alabama school buses.
A $2,500 grant will help Brewton prepare two 1,000-gallon underground fuel storage tanks for B20, a biodiesel fuel blend, which the city plans to use in its 10 buses.
Ozark, which already uses B20 in 12 buses, will use a $2,500 grant to prepare one 10,000-gallon and two 1,000-gallon fuel storage tanks for the alternative fuel. Once the tanks are prepared, all the city’s 42 school buses will run on biodiesel.
“Biofuels increase energy independence and improve air quality,” Riley said. “I commend the Ozark and Brewton school systems for switching to a fuel that is better for the environment and reduces our dependence on foreign oil.”
B20 is a blend of 80 percent petroleum diesel and 20 percent biodiesel made from renewable energy sources like soybeans, vegetable oil and animal fat. The fuel blend can be used in traditional diesel engines without modifications.
However, the biofuel has a solvent effect that may release accumulated sediment from the walls of fuel storage tanks that previously contained diesel.
The released deposits can clog fuel filters. The ADECA grants will pay for cleaning the underground fuel storage tanks prior to using biodiesel to ensure that deposits do not pose a problem.
The Energy Division of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants through its Biofuels for Schools program. Grants of up to $2,500 are available to any Alabama public school system to help pay the cost of preparing fuel storage tanks for B20.
School systems awarded a grant are required to use B20 in school buses for at least three years and must report the number of gallons of biodiesel used during that period. The grants are being paid with funds allocated to the state from the U.S. Department of Energy’s oil overcharge fund.
Riley notified Brewton Superintendent Lynn Smith and Ozark Superintendent Michael Lenhart that the grants had been approved.