Fueling the Future

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The Mississippi Development Authority said it realizes the importance of environmentally-friendly transportation and because of that, recognized the Lauderdale County Schools' bus system for using biodiesel to fuel its buses.

"The award we gave was for innovation and technology that Lauderdale County has shown us," said Floyd Daniels of MDA's Energy Division.

Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources such as new and used vegetable oil. It contains no petroleum, but it can be blended with regular diesel, or used alone. Either way, officials say it's a more environmentally-friendly fuel source.

"Lower exhaust emissions, less engine wear, less fuel injection system problems with biodiesel," said Bob Glenn of Biodiesel Fuels of Mississippi, "it's cleaner burning."

Besides its environmentally-friendly nature, another benefit of biodiesel is that it requires little or no modification to existing diesel engines. Therefore, the school system will not have to purchase an entirely new fleet of buses.

"We replaced nothing," said Lauderdale County Schools' transportation director, Roger Wright. "We just started adding the 10 percent mixture and cranked them up and run them. It works quite nicely."

Biodiesel is becoming much more common. It's already available in all 50 states, but service stations are slow to follow the trend. For now, it is easier to contact a supplier directly.