Tahoe/Truckee schools, Northstar testing state-of-the-art diesel fuel device | SierraSun.com

Tahoe/Truckee schools, Northstar testing state-of-the-art diesel fuel device

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Squinting against the sunlight, Don Harder lifts his hand to point to a dusty metallic canister wedged neatly against the back of a yellow school bus.

Harder, the school bus fleet manager for Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, explains that this canister, attached between the bus’ airfilter and turbo charger, is part of a revolutionary device designed to reduce diesel gas consumption by 25 percent to 30 percent and reduce emissions by about 50 percent and#8212; or about 80 percent less opacity (the thickness of the exhaust coming from a vehicle) than Environmental Protection Agency standards.

The transportation department has been testing the device on its No. 15 bus for the past year, and Harder said he has seen gas saving percentages spike even higher than the device estimates.

and#8220;The fact that it does what it does is amazing,and#8221; he said.

Harder said the prototype, if attached to the entire fleet, could potentially save the district about 250 gallons a week in diesel fuel. At the district’s $3 per gallon rate, Harder estimated a conservative $750 weekly savings with a yearly savings of about $27,000.

The prototype, belonging to the Murai Corporation, an engineering company based in Puerto Rico with engineers connected to NASA projects, is labeled by the company as an Oxygen Enhancement Device because of the way it adds increased oxygen to the engine.

According to Murai, the device can do this by ionizing the airflow going into the engine creating a third molecule of oxygen which in turn increases the amount of oxygen by one third.

Harder said he was approached by a mechanical engineer from the company two years ago to test the device. He said the engineer, who lives in Incline Village, wished to remain nameless but offered the device to the district for testing.

and#8220;I embrace technology, and when he approached me, with this I said bring it on,and#8221; said Harder, who added the device’s price would not be known, the engineer said, until the device is formally unveiled to the public.

Harder said the device could be beneficial, especially for transportation and delivery companies, since it works with any type of diesel engine excluding aircraft: Boats, trains, generators or automobiles.

and#8220;I think about companies like UPS or someone who has a much larger operation and think about the potential,and#8221; he said.

Harder said the Murai engineer told him that when the company goes public with the device, which took 12 years to develop, it has the potential to completely revolutionize transportation around the world, especially within the U.S., which in 2008 consumed more than 60.6 billion gallons of distillate fuel oil and#8212; the category diesel fuel falls into and#8212; according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Within the North Tahoe region, Harder said the transportation department and Northstar-at-Tahoe are the only organizations who have tested the device on their buses.

Dave Paulson, Northstar-at-Tahoe’s director of transportation and co-chair of the resort’s Northstar Environmental Action Team, said he is very impressed with the results.

and#8220;If the device does everything that it is designed to do we’d be more than interested in putting it in all our vehicles.and#8221;

Paulson said the resort has been doing many test runs since it first installed the device on two of its vehicles.

and#8220;It was a marked improvement,and#8221; he said and confirmed Harder’s test results saying on average the device increased mileage by as much as 20-30 percent while lowering their emissions at the same time.

Nannette Rondeau, the school district’s director of transportation, said she is pleased at the results.

and#8220;We are always looking for ways to reduce our budget costs and improve our environmental impact,and#8221; Rondeau said.

Harder said when the device goes public he will investigate installing it on more of their vehicles as well.