Biodiesel Driving Business to National Fleet

The sustainability trend has swept across the transportation and fuel industries in recent years. Biodiesel has helped G&D Integrated, a for-hire carrier, meet its own environmental goals and win business. 

Helping the Environment and Profits

G&D Integrated has found that sustainability is not only about its own goals, but also what it can do to meet its customers’ goals to be environmentally friendly.

“We’ve noticed that there are more and more customers asking us to participate in their sustainability efforts,” says Vince Buonassi, group manager of transportation programs at the for-hire carrier. “We’ve actually been awarded freight based on our biodiesel usage.”

Those customers are found worldwide and do business in heavy equipment manufacturing and parts fulfillment, agricultural machinery, automotive parts and components, food containers and food packaging.

Located in central Illinois, G&D Integrated’s services include transportation, warehousing, and distribution and logistics. On the transportation side, it offers point-to-point hauling, dedicated contract carriage, ocean container drayage and freight brokerage.

Its fleet of 430 vehicles travels up to 26 million miles annually. The diesel-powered units run year-round on a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel, which is known as B20.

Biodiesel has been key not only in the company’s sustainability efforts but also in growing its business. For instance, biodiesel usage is showing up in some RFPs and, Buonassi says, has been “directly related” to the company winning bids. It also has helped G&D Integrated strengthen its relationship with East Coast ports that want to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Many of our customers analyze their entire supply chain for environmental impact, and some have even gone as far as incorporating sustainability into their purchasing departments,” he says.

Significant carbon reduction

The reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from G&D’s use of biodiesel is equal to nearly 230,000 fewer gallons of gasoline consumed each year. Particulate matter is reduced by 2,854 pounds annually. The numbers come from the B20 Club, a program from the Illinois Soybean Association and the American Lung Association.

“We’re talking a material difference here,” Buonassi says.

G&D Integrated started using biodiesel several years ago after its fuel supplier, Ag-Land FS Inc., introduced the company to the fuel.

“They were claiming that this product would not only cost us less money but also would not result in any efficiency losses,” Buonassi says.

He has found that to be true and says biodiesel has not caused G&D Integrated to increase its rates.

Fuel that performs

G&D Integrated started with a B11 blend before quickly moving up to B20. Each time, it rigorously tested the fuel.

“What we observed was there was absolutely zero degradation in performance,” Buonassi says.

In fact, biodiesel added lubricity. It has also performed well in cold weather. Buonassi credits partnering with a quality vendor like Ag-Land FS to getting a good product. The fuel comes from REG.

“A company like REG has production facilities that make top-of-the-line, quality-controlled biodiesel,” he says. “And they’re sourcing different forms of feedstock that go through testing before being converted to the end product.”

It’s an end product that Buonassi credits with helping G&D Integrated stay ahead of the curve.

“There’s really no sense in fighting the tide of sustainability,” he says. “A lot of other truck carriers will. At G&D, we feel it's our duty to be good environmental custodians, and it makes business sense for us.”

The Bottom Line

Environment

G&D Integrated's biodiesel use reduces:

  • Carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of 230,000 gallons of gasoline annually
  • More than 2,800 pounds of particulate matter

Performance

No drop in fleet performance compared with petroleum diesel.
Uses up to a B20 blend in cold weather.

Business

G&D Integrated has been awarded business because of biodiesel use.

Watch: G&D Integrated Explains Biodiesel Benefits

Before G&D Integrated fully embraced biodiesel, it extensively tested how it's fleet performed. See the results.

Why a 34-Year Veteran Mechanic Believes in Biodiesel

Diesel equipment technology instructor Scott Balding schools his students on the benefits of biodiesel.

An important component of diesel education.

As the diesel equipment technology instructor at Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel, Illinois, Scott Balding’s main responsibility is to educate and train students about diesel technology and fuels. With 34 years of experience in the field, he is focused on preparing the next generation of diesel engine mechanics.

As little as 2% biodiesel can provide 66% more lubricity.

With the numerous moving internal parts of an engine working at a high temperature, lubricity is important for maintaining functionality. From the fuel pump to the fuel injector, biodiesel can be used to help lubricate the engine components. According to Balding, as little as 2 percent biodiesel can provide 66 percent more lubricity when added to petroleum diesel fuel. However, perhaps the most important component, which combines performance and emission advantages, is the low sulfur content.

“In the last few years, the fuel industry has reduced the amount of sulfur from 500 down to 15 parts per million in petroleum diesel fuel. But sulfur has lubricating properties, so when you remove it from diesel, you lose lubrication. When you add biodiesel, even at just 1 or 2 percent, you bring back that lubricity, but not the sulfur,” Balding says.

Biodiesel removes buildup thanks to cleaning properties. 

There are myths in the industry suggesting that using biodiesel leads to filter plugging. According to Balding, that myth has some truth, but it must be taken in context. In 30 plus years working on diesel engines, Balding sees one recurring issue when it comes to diesel fuel — cleanliness.

“Diesel is a dirty fuel, and after years of use buildup will occur in storage tanks and the engine fuel system,” says Balding.

“Biodiesel has solvent properties and will remove this buildup. Farmers need to realize that their fuel storage and equipment tanks must be clean, and they need to change filters on a regular basis. Once the transition to biodiesel blended fuel is complete, then your system is clean and you can return to a regular maintenance schedule as recommended by your engine manufacturer.”

Balding is a biodiesel proponent and is hopeful that when his students graduate they will have a solid understanding of the many benefits of biodiesel.

“It’s time to ignore the myths and embrace biodiesel for what it is — a good fuel that is good for our environment and economy.”

"Our students learn about the biodiesel production process firsthand, and we burn various blends of biodiesel in our engines, looking at the characteristics of horsepower and torque, and how the engine is responding to the fuel."Scott Balding, Diesel Equipment Technology Instructor, Wabash Valley College

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