Certified by both the EPA and California Air Resources Board at 0.02 g/bhp-hr,Blue Bird’s Vision Propane buses now offer an optional ultra-low NOx level option. Developed in their partnership with Roush CleanTech, Blue Bird is providing the cleanest propane engine available for school buses on the market, with this version being 90 percent cleaner than the current emissions standard and 10 times cleaner than any non-Blue Bird propane school bus option available today.
Last year, Blue Bird released the first 0.05 g/bhp-hr NOx Ford 6.8L engine in their Vision Propane buses, which at the time operated with the lowest NOx levels of any engine in Class 4-7 vehicles on the market. CARB has further encouraged engine manufacturers to reduce levels below the current mandatory EPA standard of 0.2 grams per brake horsepower hour (known as g/bhp-hr). Reaching lower emission reduction levels allows districts more opportunities for securing green-initiative grants as well as providing higher levels of funding based on the lowest levels of NOx of any non-electric vehicle.
“To continue our tradition in alternative fuels leadership, we are proud to be the first manufacturer certified to this lowest NOx level in a Type C school bus. Our overarching goal is to continually build a better bus that provides a clean and safe environment for our students and communities,” said Mark Terry, chief commercial officer of Blue Bird. “The Blue Bird Vision Propane continues to dominate, and we continue to make investments to ensure it exceeds our customers’ expectations with the lowest NOx emissions and the lowest ownership costs.”
Blue Bird’s new ultra-low NOx certification allows districts to take advantage of many opportunities:
- The option of Ultra Low NOx opens more doors for additional grant incentives, as well as higher levels of funding, including those from the VW Settlement.
- With the added bonus of federal and local rebates and incentives for alternative fuels, districts are saving up to $3,500 per bus annually on fuel and maintenance costs.
- The 0.02 Ultra-Low NOx option is 90 Percent Cleaner than non-Blue Bird propane bus makes currently available, further reducing negative environmental impact and improving air quality for children who suffer from asthma-related symptoms and other breathing issues.
Over the past year, NOx has received attention because of Volkswagen’s emissions settlement. The automaker’s $2.9 billion Environmental Mitigation Trust will fund actions that specifically reduce excess NOx emissions and state after state are including alternative fueled school buses in their funding models. “Many school districts will have access to funding to replace aging diesel models with clean-burning propane buses,” said Todd Mouw, president of ROUSH CleanTech.
Propane is naturally much cleaner than diesel and gasoline. The ultra-low NOx Blue Bird Vision Propane operates on an engine that is 90 percent cleaner than the current 2010 emissions standards and 99 percent cleaner than pre-2007 standards. Thousands of school districts still operate diesel buses manufactured before 2007.
“A school district can operate 100 buses with the 0.02 NOx engines and emit less NOx emissions than one diesel bus manufactured before 2007,” said Mouw. “Our nation has an abundant supply of propane; combine that with the economic and environmental benefits, and it’s no wonder that more than 850 school districts have already chosen propane buses.”
Nitrogen oxides are a group of gases known to contribute to acid rain, smog and other air quality issues. According to the EPA, exposure to NOx exhaust can cause negative health effects in children, including eye, nose, throat and lung irritations, headaches and fatigue.
Today almost 1 million students ride to school in more than 14,000 propane school buses around the nation.