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.

REG Lab Has the Answers

When the Iowa Department of Transportation has a difficult fuel-related question, it turns to the experts on the REG technical services team for answers.

For the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) fleet, fuel performance can be a public safety issue.

More than 900 of its 1,500 diesel-powered vehicles are snowplow trucks responsible for clearing roadways during Iowa’s long and snowy winters. Other trucks are used for bridge inspections and to change lights that illuminate roadways. In addition, a city fire department and ambulances fuel at Iowa DOT headquarters in Ames.

So when the Iowa DOT, which has been using biodiesel blends for more than two decades, has a fuel-related question, it needs to know exactly what’s going on and it needs answers quickly. That’s why it turns to the technical services team at Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (REG) for the toughest questions.

“REG has a world-class laboratory with world-class professionals working there,” says David May, Fleet Manager for Iowa DOT. “They’re always interested in getting to the bottom of it, and their response is always timely.”

Resolving the toughest problems

May’s favorite example of this is when one of the Iowa DOT’s 50 fueling locations was experiencing filter plugging issues at the dispenser.

They couldn’t figure out why it was happening, so May took a fuel sample and the filter to the lab at REG headquarters in Ames.

The REG technical services team has a state-of the-art facility that allows them to perform a root cause analysis to determine why an issue is happening.

“What they determined was the problem was related to a drag-reducing agent, which is used in pipelines to help reduce friction,” May says.

Typically, the additive is diluted to the point that it is not a problem. REG, with the help of a mass spectrometer, an instrument used for sample analysis, was able to trace the issue to a concentrated amount of a drag-reducing agent making its way to the Iowa DOT fueling site.

“This was a very rare problem,” May says. “Rare to the extent that I asked our Iowa DOT lab and other fuel labs, and no one had ever heard of a drag reducer being present in a level that plugs fuel filters.”

Better performance with biodiesel

May and the folks at the Iowa DOT can’t tell a difference in performance when using emissions-reducing biodiesel. In fact, they see performance-related benefits.

“We believe we have fewer fuel-system-related failures because biodiesel adds lubricity,” he says. “Also, our plow operators can tell if there’s a reduction in horsepower, and we have all the horsepower that we would ever want with biodiesel. And I can say that the pricing tends to be favorable between biodiesel and petroleum diesel.”

The Iowa DOT gets some but not all of its biodiesel blended fuel from REG. But May always seeks the expertise of the REG technical services team when there’s a difficult question he needs to get answered.

“REG has been very generous in their willingness to help solve puzzles, and they don’t care whose fuel it is,” he says. “They just want to help us resolve any issues we’re having.”

"REG has a world-class laboratory with world-class professionals working there. They’re always interested in getting to the bottom of it, and their response is always timely."
David May, Fleet Manager, Iowa DOT