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

Looking Under the Hood at Biodiesel

Diesel technicians whose fleets run on biodiesel blends say performance stays strong with the renewable fuel.

As a diesel technician with 15 years’ experience, Joe Siadak knows truck engines well. But biodiesel taught him something new. 

When Mahoney Environment, where he is lead technician, decided to run its fleet of Class 7 and Class 8 trucks on biodiesel blends, Siadak had some concerns. He thought his team would see more fuel system failures and increased filter change intervals.

The reality, however, is there's been no impact on the performance of the 160-truck fleet, which collects used cooking oil from restaurants nationwide.

“It was very surprising that the failures and added work I expected to see just didn’t happen,” Siadak says. “It was as if we made no change at all.”

On board with biodiesel

His story is not unique. While some people make assumptions about biodiesel, the people who know diesel vehicles best inside and out — mechanics and technicians — and have experience with biodiesel say their fleets run great on the renewable fuel.

"I'm 100 percent on board with biodiesel," says Roget Ritchie, maintenance manager at Rochester Public Transit in Minnesota. "Our equipment has lasted and done a really good job." Rochester Public Transit has been running its buses on biodiesel blends for nearly 20 years. It started at a B2 blend, meaning the fuel is 2 percent biodiesel and 98 percent petroleum diesel, and gradually moved to higher blends. Today, the 55-bus fleet uses B20 in warmer months and B10 in the winter. "With the B10 in the winter, we haven't had any issues at all," says Ritchie, a diesel technician for nearly 40 years. "We change filters every 6,000 miles, and the equipment has run fine."

Fewer maintenance issues

One of the benefits of biodiesel is it adds lubricity that is lacking in ULSD. Diesel vehicles rely on fuel to lubricate the fuel injection system, including the fuel pump and injectors. Without enough lubrication, these components can experience unnecessary wear and damage. Proper lubricity management can also help engines run smoother, more quietly and cooler. 

"While we do not tear down injectors to see the impact firsthand, our injector replacement certainly has decreased since we started running on biodiesel," Siadak says. "I attribute this to the increase in lubricity the biodiesel provides."

Rochester Public Transit also has had fewer injector issues since moving up to B20 a few years ago, according to Ritchie.

Biodiesel also has a higher ASTM spec for Cetane compared with petroleum diesel. And Siadak says biodiesel’s cleaner burn has contributed to fewer after-treatment failures from plugged diesel particulate filters.

A good solution

There are other benefits to fleets that use biodiesel. One is that biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas and engine head emissions compared with petroleum diesel. Another is that biodiesel is often less expensive than petroleum diesel.

What Siadak and Ritchie are ultimately responsible for is keeping their fleets in peak condition. And in that respect, biodiesel gets the job done. 

“I’ve been working on Rochester buses since the mid1980s, and biodiesel has been as good if not better for the equipment than diesel,” Ritchie says.

And Siadak says anyone who thinks biodiesel hurts performance should look under the hood.

“If two trucks were side by side and one ran biodiesel and one didn’t, you would not be able to tell the difference,” he says.

Mahoney Environmental

  • Located in Joliet, Illinois
  • 160 trucks
  • Travels 9.5 million miles annually
  • Uses up to B20 

Rochester Public Transit

  • Located in Rochester, Minnesota
  • 55 buses
  • Travels 1.2 million miles annually
  • Uses up to B20