The Georgia Institute of Technology and the Ford Motor Company Fund are
partnering on the nation’s first conversion of a school bus to a hydraulic
hybrid vehicle that runs on recycled biofuel. Atlanta Public Schools donated
the bus for the project.
Conducted by Georgia Tech, the project is financed by a $50,000 Ford College
Community Challenge Grant, one of five given annually for a student-led project
that matches university resources with an urgent community need related to
sustainability. This project focuses on converting existing school buses into
hydraulic hybrids, which could lower greenhouse emissions and reduce transportation
costs for schools.
“Together with Georgia Tech and Atlanta Public Schools, we are taking
innovation from the classroom to the community,” said Jim Vella, president,
Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “This is a noteworthy example
of the types of programs we are bringing to Atlanta as part of our new Operation Goodwill
partnership with local Ford and Lincoln dealers with the goal of expanding our
engagement with this community.”
Michael Leamy, Georgia Tech assistant professor of mechanical engineering,
and his students have designed and developed the hydraulic hybrid system for
the 16-passenger school bus, and its installation is nearly complete. This
project also includes a cost-benefit analysis of a large-scale conversion of a
school bus fleet to hydraulic hybrid powertrains designed to recover lost
“We expect our research will lead to cleaner, more efficient school buses
that will help school districts like APS significantly reduce fuel costs and
greenhouse gas emissions,” Leamy said.
Atlanta Public School officials are using the
project to educate the next generation about green energy.
“Our students are eager to learn about new ways to care for the
environment,” said Brian Mitchell, principal, Mary Lin Elementary. “The Green
Eco School Bus turns a theoretical concept into a fun and exciting reality that
stimulates their learning.”