A Case Study for Biodiesel in School Buses: BSME Newsletter 2023/24 Edition 1

A Case Study for Biodiesel in School Buses: BSME Newsletter 2023/24 Edition 1

Every day, tens of thousands of school students in the UAE commute to school in school buses that run on fossil fuel, emitting roughly 800-1,000 g of CO2 per kilometre. Not only is this not aligned with the goals of the Paris Climate Accord, it sends the completely wrong message to our children.

Few people know this, but biodiesel made from waste cooking oil is one of the lowest carbon transport fuels available today at scale. And it’s manufactured in the UAE. In its pure form (B100), it cuts carbon emissions by 84%, although it is commonly used in blends of 20% or less. Biodiesel from waste offers schools several quick wins. It reduces carbon dioxide emissions while also promoting sustainable waste management – among other things, the recycling of used cooking oil from the school canteen. And it’s easy to implement – biodiesel can be used in school buses as a “drop-in” replacement fuel that doesn’t require any modification to the engine.


AI-generated image depicting students riding on a school bus fuelled by low-carbon biodiesel in the UAE.


The Alliance for Sustainable Schools (TASS) estimates that if all school buses in the UAE were to start using a 20% blend of biodiesel (so-called “B20”) it would avoid about 25,000 tons of CO2 annually. This is equivalent to taking 5,500 cars off the road for a year.

In the UAE, TASS has been working with The Arbor School and Neutral Fuels to demonstrate that biodiesel really is a practical, environmentally- friendly and cost-effective alternative to fossil fuel for school buses. Despite the obvious merits, not all bus companies are willing to come to the party right away. So, with the help of its student ambassadors, TASS is also running a campaign to engage bus company executives in a conversation about their plans to provide green school transport.

As a concrete action that all schools can take right now to lower their carbon footprint, getting the school buses running on biodiesel is a no-brainer. It mightn’t be the sexiest technology out there, but you’ve got to admit there’s a certain elegance about the notion of students commuting to and from school using a low-carbon fuel made of waste from their canteen.

Read the full BSME Newsletter 2023/24 Edition 1 here.

To enquire how your school buses can make the switch, get in touch with us at [email protected]

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