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August 2007

Waste Management sponsors vegetable-oil bus

Thirteen Dartmouth College students are crossing the country in a bus powered primarily by waste vegetable oil. The bus will hit more than 45 cities between June and August, campaigning at America’s biggest concerts, conventions and rallies in its more than 10,000-mile odyssey.

Waste Management is a sponsor of the environmental bus. Waste Management was selected to become a sponsor because of the company’s commitment to alternative and renewable energy and recycling programs.

Thirteen Dartmouth students tour America in the vegetable-powered Big Green Bus.

“It’s fitting with our company tag line of Think Green® that Waste Management is the gold sponsor of the Big Green Bus,” said David Aardsma, senior vice president, sales and marketing.

In its third year on the road, the Big Green Bus aims higher and reaches farther than ever before in its goal to put “green” on the mind of every citizen. The bus, recycled from a life as a school bus, has been retrofitted to run on waste vegetable oil collected from fast-food diners and Chinese restaurants.

“We send this vegetable oil through a filter and into one of our veggie oil tanks,” said Merritt Jenkins, an environmental studies major in the class of 2010. “We have a 220-gallon capacity, on-board storage tank. This veggie oil then goes to the diesel engine where it is burned in place of diesel.”

The bus starts on diesel fuel and switches to vegetable oil when the engine becomes hot.

The bus was modified to install a separate tank to hold the vegetable oil and to add hoses to move the oil to the engine. The bus must be started on diesel fuel to warm the engine because vegetable oil is much thicker than diesel fuel. A valve and a switch allow the students to cross between diesel fuel and vegetable oil.

This summer, the bus will house 13 college students and their gear, with room for visitors. The bus features a NASA-quality solar panel that provides electricity for their flat screen plasma TV and laptops, along with a telescoping wind turbine, on board waste composting and pedal generators to charge the students’ iPods.

Connecting various events across the country, places where the students could stay and cities they want to visit, the students chose a route that began on the Dartmouth campus and heads southwest toward Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and over to New Orleans at the end of the month. In July, the bus travels toward Texas and then onto Colorado and Utah before spending the rest of the month in various California cities. In August, the bus travels to Washington and Oregon and the Glacier, Yellowstone and Badlands national parks. The journey then leads to Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio before final stops in Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston.

The trek is scheduled to end August 30 at the Dartmouth campus in Hanover, New Hampshire.