The football team won’t be the only West Virginia University presence in Florida on New Year’s Day.

A group of engineering researchers will be spending their winter break in the Orlando area helping transit officials there convert their buses to biodiesel. The researchers, who will be leaving at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday (Dec. 15), will be working with the Central Florida Regional Transit Authority, measuring the efficiency and emissions effects of using a biodiesel blend on 12 buses.

On the road with this team will be a group of engineering scientists, students and technicians from the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines, and Emissions, headquartered in WVU’s College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

The main tool in the group’s arsenal? The Transportable Heavy-Duty Vehicle Emissions Test Laboratory, recently retrofitted to handle the lower emissions of later-model vehicles.

The rolling laboratory carries an abundance of sophisticated equipment on two tractor trailers. Support vehicles carry team members and additional equipment. Over the past several years, CAFEE has taken the lab as far north as Alaska, as far south as Mexico City, and across the nation from Massachusetts to California, testing emissions and fuel efficiency on buses, trucks, locomotives and ships.

Nigel Clark, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, is the lead researcher on the Orlando project.

“Many areas are converting their buses to alternative fuels in an effort to reduce the need for expensive, imported oil, as well as to help reduce harmful emissions and meet air quality standards.” Clark said. “The Orlando project is part of this effort, and we are excited to be contributing our expertise and capabilities.”

CAFEE receives funding from the U.S. Departments of Energy and Transportation and from other federal, state and industry sponsors, and has pioneered work on chassis testing of trucks and buses. After the Florida venture, the CAFEE Laboratory has commitments on both the east and west coasts.

“The overall mission of CAFEE is to reduce harmful vehicle emissions and increase fuel efficiency, with a special focus on our nation’s heavy-duty vehicles, including buses and trucks,” said Chris Atkinson, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and CAFEE director. “Our ability to transport the emissions laboratory to agencies’ facilities, rather than transporting the vehicles to the laboratory, minimizes time out-of-service and logistics issues.”

CAFEE receives approximately $5 million per year in external research funding, and has conducted research for a wide range of sponsors, including the U.S. Departments of Energy and Transportation, NIOSH, Southcoast Air Quality Management District, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board, major engine manufacturers, fuel providers, and several state and municipal agencies. CAFEE has also built the largest national repository of heavy-duty vehicle exhaust emissions data.



CONTACT: Susan Case, College of Engineering and Mineral Resources