Gaining an Edge with Bioheat® Blended Fuel

Hart Home Comfort has evolved many times over its history. One of its more recent changes is blending heating oil with biodiesel to take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits. 

The Biodiesel Difference

Hart Home Comfort has come a long way from operating a fledgling company in the back of a gas station. Through a blend of patience and industry expertise, Ray Hart Sr. has evolved his business into a leading heating oil company in the country’s largest metropolis — New York City.

Hart was introduced to the heating oil business through part-time COD deliveries. Purchasing a terminal on Long Island then provided an avenue for him into the transportation market.

In 2006, an employee recommended that Hart Home Comfort explore biodiesel. Capitalizing on his existing infrastructure, Hart moved ahead and has never looked back. For heating oil customers, the company began by offering Bioheat® blended fuel, which is a blend of heating oil and biodiesel. Hart Home Comfort started with a B2 blend before quickly moving up to B20. 

“When we started, we were attracted by biodiesel being an American-made fuel. We also felt we had a responsibility to future generations to be proactive in delivering a cleaner fuel for the environment,” Hart says. “Now, Bioheat® also gives us an economic advantage.” 

It also gives their customers an economic advantage in the form of a New York state tax credit. That credit returns to the customer 1 cent for every 1 percent of biodiesel per gallon blended into traditional heating oil. 

“Claiming the tax credit is a very easy process for our customers, and it gives them another reason to embrace Bioheat® blended fuel in addition to the environmental and performance benefits,” Hart says.

Hart Home Comfort only offers Bioheat® blended fuel. From April 2017 to April 2018, the company sold over 8 million gallons, with more than 2 million gallons of that being biodiesel. Its New Hyde Park terminal thru-puts approximately 13 million to 15 million gallons of heating oil annually and another 4 million to 5 million gallons of biodiesel.

“We want to market a good, reliable Bioheat® blended fuel product,” Hart says. “With the introduction of low-sulfur heating oil and the near-zero sulfur content of biodiesel, it gives us a really good marketing edge.”   

The Bottom Line

Economics

Bioheat® blended fuel gives the company a financial advantage

Business

Improved customer satisfaction thanks to:

  • The state tax credit, which puts money back in customers' pockets
  • Offering a cleaner burning fuel

REG Lab Has the Answers

The Iowa Department of Transportation turns to the REG technical services team for fuel-related issues.


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.”

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