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Putting School Buses to Work for Fun and Profit

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On: Sat, Dec 13, 2014 at 8:36AM | By: Karen Cook

Putting School Buses to Work for Fun and Profit

One of the most iconic and easily recognizable vehicles on the road has to be the school bus. The distinctive yellow paint and overall shape of the bus has not changed in more than 70 years. They perform their function well and there has been little need or desire to mess with what works.

Under a grant form the Clinton Global Initiative, a group of companies have banded together to update the classic school bus and bring it into the modern era. They see an opportunity to use the bus to potentially solve economic, transportation, energy, and health problems.

The vehicle will still look the same and be recognizable as what it is, but it will be so much more! Next year three California school districts will have six buses transformed into what will amount to mobile generators. The diesel engines will be replaced by huge electric batteries.

School buses generally sit unused for 80% of the day. During this time they could be charging their batteries and storing the electricity. This would be done during off-peak hours which would give the schools the ability to sell the excess energy back to the power company during times of high demand, thus producing a profit. The 100-125 kWh batteries have the capacity to make an 80-mile round trip for picking up and dropping off its small passengers, leaving a high potential for excess electricity to sell.

In times of crisis the buses could also be available as generators for hospitals and other emergency responders such as police and fire departments.

The updated buses are also healthier for their passengers. Studies have shown that the fumes from diesel engines can cause or trigger asthma and bronchitis in children and the American Cancer Society has recommended that children should not be exposed to these fumes any more than absolutely necessary. This hazard is eliminated by disposing of the diesel engines.

The cost to retrofit, operate, maintain, and monitor the buses is estimated at between $5 and $7 million dollars each, but the designers believe that this will be more than compensated for in the long run. Several factors go into this estimation. The electricity required to transport the bus the equivalent of a gallon of diesel fuel is around $1.10; the average cost of diesel is currently around $3.50 per gallon. Maintenance fees are lower with no oil changes and less wear and tear on the brakes and engine. Combining the savings with the profits from selling the excess electricity back to the power companies, the group predicts a gain of $5,000 to upwards of $20,000 per vehicle.

Add some shatter-proof glass and a way to secure the doors and this could be the perfect vehicle in which to ride out the Zombie Apocalypse!


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