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Veggie-powered bus ferries Dartmouth Ultimate Frisbee team cross-country for tournaments, outreach
Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
With fuel prices expected to hit almost $2.50 a gallon this summer, a cross-country trip in a 37-foot converted school bus sounds like an expensive proposition. But fifteen Dartmouth College Ultimate Frisbee players will drive from Hanover, NH to Seattle, WA and back, powered not by petroleum but by french fry grease and idealism. Their route will include frequent stops to participate in Ultimate tournaments and to promote alternative fuels and environmental and social responsibility with the help of the Ultimate Frisbee community.
Working together, the students themselves purchased and converted the school bus to run on vegetable oil, a substance discarded by the gallon at fast food restaurants. Unlike the more well-known fuel biodiesel, which is produced by chemically modifying vegetable oil in an expensive and time-consuming process, The Big Green Bus runs on unmodified vegetable oil. To use the oil, the students added a second fuel tank to hold the vegetable oil. The bus starts on normal diesel fuel and uses the heat from the engine to warm the vegetable oil, lowering its viscosity and allowing it to flow through the engine.
The project is co-sponsored by Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering and the Environmental Studies Program. Many of the students involved in the project are majoring in engineering sciences and/or environmental studies.
According to the project's head of outreach, senior Andrew Hoffman, "A simple and plentiful resource fuels the bus. At present, restaurants across the nation discard it every day. We reuse the waste, shaping society's waste into social energy. The world's increasing dependence on fossil fuel consumption necessitates research in and a quick transition to alternative energy sources. The Big Green Bus shows that fuel alternatives are available for use right now."
The group, composed of fourteen graduating seniors and one junior, remodeled the bus's interior as well as its mechanics. They stripped the interior to fill the front half with tables and chairs and outfitted the rear with sleeping accommodations. The tour plans to leave Hanover in early June for its circuitous route to the July 2 tournament in Seattle and then to continue spreading the word until their end date in early August.
The project's organizers are relying on the nationwide community of Ultimate Frisbee players to connect the tour with hosts and sponsors at each stop. In addition to presentations at Ultimate Frisbee tournaments, the Big Green Bus will promote alternative fuels through environmental action fairs, local alternative fuels interest group meetings, and other similar community gatherings.
Their website can be found at www.thebiggreenbus.org.
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