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.

Getting Aggressive With Sustainability

MUNICIPAL FLEET CUTS EMISSIONS BY RUNNING ON 100% BIODIESEL

Ames

The city snowplows in Ames, Iowa, have worked in all types of winter weather. Blizzards. Ice. Subzero temperatures. You name it, they’ve been out in it.

In early 2020, they did something they’ve never done before: run on fully renewable fuel. Using a simple, affordable piece of technology, several municipal snowplows took part in a pilot project to run 100% biodiesel.

“We really feel like we need to do something to change what we’re doing to our environment,” says Rich Iverson, the city’s Fleet Support Manager. “I would strongly suggest to any public official that they take a look at what this could do for sustainability in their communities.”

 

CUTTING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

Biodiesel is a sustainable fuel that has been used for decades as a cleaner-burning alternative to petroleum diesel. It is made from renewable resources that would otherwise have no further use, including recycled cooking oil, waste animal fats and vegetable oils.

Traditionally, it’s been blended with petroleum diesel. For example, a common blend is called “B20,” meaning the fuel is 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel.

Recently, some forward-looking organizations have been using higher blends, including B100, to take even greater advantage of the environmental benefits of biodiesel. B100 reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by up to 86% compared with petroleum diesel.*

The city of Ames is one of those. It’s a natural fit. They’re the hometown of Renewable Energy Group, North America’s largest biodiesel producer. And the city has a long history of being at the forefront of the sustainability movement, including in 1975 becoming the first city in the U.S. to open a waste-to-energy facility.

“We undertook the B100 project because we wanted to be responsible stewards to our planet, to the environment,” Mayor John Haila says. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to make a big impact.”

 

BEING A SUSTAINABILITY LEADER

With support from REG, Ames equipped several trucks to run 100% biodiesel. They’re high-use dump trucks fitted with a blade in the winter and used to haul material for road crews in the warmer months, and they account for 10% of the diesel fuel consumed by the city’s 300-unit fleet.

The B100 trucks were tested right away, with a snowstorm the first weekend. Since then, they’ve run in temperatures as cold as minus 9 degrees Fahrenheit and have made a three-hour roundtrip at highway speeds to pick up road salt.

“We’ve had no issues,” says Justin Clausen, Public Works Operations Manager for the city of Ames. “The operators and service technicians would not hesitate to tell me if something was wrong, and not once have I heard a concern from them.”

B100 has also proven to be an easy way for the city to have an immediate effect on climate change. Like many organizations, Ames has looked into various alternative fuels, but many are cost-prohibitive or are not yet ready to meet their needs, especially with medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

“Going to B100 with this particular technology is extremely practical for us,” Iverson says. “It’s a great first step as we really get aggressive with our sustainability program. It works beautifully.”

With the environmental, performance and ease-of-use advantages, Ames officials say the prospects of expanding B100 usage look good.

“I think the future is extremely bright for biodiesel,” the mayor says. “We’re excited to partner with REG and also lead the way nationally in looking for new ways to be sustainable and good stewards of our environment.”

 

B100 — How It Works

  • Fuel delivery system with a split tank for petroleum diesel in one section and biodiesel in another installed on truck 
  • In cold weather, diesel used on start-up
  • System warms biodiesel and automatically switches truck to 100% biodiesel
  • At shut-off, truck idles for a couple minutes while biodiesel purged from lines

 


 

 

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