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South Salt Lake Journal

Granite School District unveils 40 buses with Idle Free Heat technology

Sep 24, 2018 12:04PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Granite School District officially unveils Idle Free Heat technology to the public on Aug. 21. From left to right: Dave Gatti, director of transportation at Granite School District; Rep. Mike Winder; Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox; Joel Ewell, inventor of Idle Free Heat technology; Thom Carter, executive director at UCAIR. (Whitney Cox/City Journals)

By Whitney Cox | [email protected] 

Granite School District unveiled the first 40 buses in Utah that have been installed with Idle Free Heat technology. 

“Idle Free Heat is a simple solution to a common problem,” said Joel Ewell, inventor of Idle Free Heat technology. “We idle because we don’t want to be cold. Idle Free Heat directly addresses this problem by allowing bus drivers to turn off their engines and still keep warm. This is all done without using a drop of fuel or producing one ounce of pollution.” 

Air quality is an ongoing problem in Utah and idling school buses contribute. A single school bus idling for an hour emits 81 grams of nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, PM10, PM2.5 and other pollutants. Not only will the new technology help decrease pollution, but it will also help save on fuel and extend the life of the engines. “Idle Free was born out of my desire to eliminate waste. I hate waste,” said Ewell. 

Almost two years ago, Joel and his wife Jessica first presented their idea at the annual Clear the Air Challenge. Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) holds a contest annually and grants money to the winners, helping make their ideas become reality.   

“UCAIR grant program provides funding for businesses and organizations that want to be part of the solution but do not have the means to make it become a reality,” said Thom Carter, executive director at UCAIR. 

Rep. Mike Winder first saw Idle Free Heat technology while acting as a judge at the UCAIR competition and he attended the unveiling to show his support. “It’s only 40 buses in Granite School District today, but I hope that grows to be more buses around the state and around the country,” said Winder. 

The UCAIR grants program began five years ago and has since awarded more than 47 grants, totaling more than 1.1 million dollars. UCAIR provided the grant funding in 2017 for the Idle Free Heat technology to be installed in the Granite School District buses. 

“I am proud to be a part of it…It is our role to make sure that each Utahn knows their role in making sure that Utah lives up to its potential. Since everyone plays a part in air quality problem, everyone must be a part of the solution. And we are putting our money where our mouth is,” said Carter. 

At the unveiling, Ewell expressed his gratitude to UCAIR and his passion for clean air. “It’s great to see something you worked so hard on actually come to fruition and start benefitting the community…I wouldn’t be here today without UCAIR. They really do put their money where their mouth is,” said Ewell. 

If there was one theme at the unveiling, it was revealed by each speaker passionately challenging every single person in Utah to do their part for cleaner air. From Carter challenging every family in the district to come up with practical solutions this school year, to Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox warning us that the progress Utah has made toward cleaner air is not nearly enough. 

“Government has an important role to play in helping clean our air, but I’m here to tell you that there is nothing that government or legislature can do that is going to solve this problem. It’s going to take every single one of us in this state making thousands of small choices for ourselves to actually clean the air up and make it safer every day for our children to go outside,” said Cox.