A collaborative effort between the UI and the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District has resulted in the largest clean diesel grant ever issued by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency through its Illinois Clean Diesel Grant Program. The grant of $445,000 will be used to retrofit 43 buses in the CUMTD fleet with diesel particulate filters.
Xinlei Wang, a UI professor of agricultural and biological engineering, was instrumental in the field testing and evaluation of the feasible filter technology that captures about 90 percent of the diesel soot and up to 85 percent of the hydrocarbons and carbon monoxides emitted from the buses' tailpipes.
Wang began working with the CUMTD in 2006. He applied for and received a $50,000 grant from the U.S. EPA that allowed the district to install filters on four of their buses in a pilot project.
"The filters lived up to and surpassed our expectations, which gave us the confidence to try and expand the project to as many buses as possible," said David Moore, the director of maintenance for the CUMTD. "We don't change things on the fleet on a massive scale without that confidence, so we were very happy with the results."
Doug Scott, the director of IEPA, announced the grant Oct. 13. He commended Wang and the CUMTD for their persistence and commitment to the project.
"Dr. Wang worked with CUMTD staff and wrote two grants directly to the EPA to fund the project. Those grants were not successful, in part, because he was competing against us (IEPA) for the money," Scott said. "Our staff was very impressed with the work Dr. Wang was doing and the commitment he and the CUMTD staff had for this project, so we worked with them on an application for our Illinois clean diesel grant program that we were able to approve and fund."
Bill Volk, the managing director of the CUMTD, said the district also has purchased several hybrid electric buses. "When all 43 filters are installed and running, in conjunction with the hybrid buses that are now in service, 80 percent of our fleet will have clean emissions. We hope to obtain another 21 vehicles over the next two years, and at that point, 100 percent of our fleet will have emissions as clean as they can be under current technology."
According to Wang, the filters will remove 5.7 tons of pollutants each year, with 81 tons reduced over the life of the buses.
"This project will make Champaign-Urbana MTD a national leader in clean fleet bus operations," Wang said. "It not only ensures that the MTD will continue to provide reliable community transportation, it proves they are committed to a safe and clean environment."