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Palmetto Clean Fuels Intern Completes Thesis Analyzing University of South Carolina Shuttles

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Eva James has been an intern with the Palmetto Clean Fuels coalition (PCF), an initiative of the Office of Regulatory Staff - Energy Office, since September 2019. Funding for the internship comes from the Clean Cities University Workforce Development Program, administered by Argonne National Laboratory. James is a recent graduate of the Honor’s College of the University of South Carolina (UofSC) where she studied Environmental Science and Geography.
 
For her Honor’s thesis, James conducted a case study entitled “Assessing the Feasibility, Costs, and Benefits of Transitioning Part of the University of South Carolina Shuttle Fleet to an Alternative Fuel Source and Promoting Anti-Idling Strategies.” James’ thesis advisor was Dr. April Hiscox, an Associate Professor at UofSC; her second reader was Ben Kessler, a Clean Transportation Specialist in the Energy Office.
 
Research and Methodology
The current UofSC fleet consists of 11 light-duty shuttles and 13 heavy-duty school buses, all of which rely on gasoline and diesel fuel sources. James’ thesis intended to assess the environmental, health, and economic tradeoffs of switching part of the existing shuttle fleet to an alternative fuel source. The study found that a partial switch to an alternative fuel source – compressed natural gas or propane – is environmentally and economically feasible if a form of federal or state funding assistance is available. She also performed detailed, fleet specific idling-cost calculations to encourage the adoption of recommended anti-idling strategies. The study relied heavily on data points from a simple payback analysis and on-road fleet footprint analysis, both derived from Argonne National Laboratory’s Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) tool.
 
James graduated Summa Cum Laude from the UofSC Honors College in May 2020. She will continue her internship through the summer and aspires to attend a graduate program to study sustainability management and environmental policy in the spring of 2021. 
 

About the Palmetto Clean Fuels Coalition
Palmetto Clean Fuels coalition (PCF) works to increase the use of alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies in South Carolina. PCF is part of the Clean Cities program, one of nearly 100 designated coalitions in the United States. To learn more about PCF’s initiatives, visit the PCF website.