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Gaston school buses are filled up with 20 percent biodiesel fuel and 80 percent diesel fuel.

School buses in Gaston County, NC are running on bio-diesel fuel. Now you can smell like a fry cook if you get behind one, and the county can save a ton of money — $150K a year, to be exact.

The Gaston County school system has found a unique answer to rising gasoline prices. It is producing its own biodiesel fuel by recycling cooking oil that comes from school cafeterias and area restaurants.

“We expect to produce 12,000 gallons of biodiesel this year, with the possibility of producing more than 60,000 gallons in the future,” Superintendent Ed Sadler said Tuesday.

After the cooking oil is collected, the school system pumps it into giant pots and mixes it with the right amount of alcohol and sodium hydroxide. The cooking oil is mixed with alcohol and sodium hydroxide. “The sodium hydroxide, it has to be exact,” said Grady Truett, the county’s assistant director of transportation. “If you don’t, then you make a pot of glob.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding