/// Guest post by contributor Renewable Energy Group
It’s common for those of us in the biodiesel business to get questions from truckstop operators about whether offering our fuel requires expensive infrastructure changes, like new tanks, piping and more. Fortunately for everyone, the answer is no.
In fact, if you buy fuel that has already been blended, it’s likely that you can store and sell it at your locations without making any infrastructure changes. Whether you have B5 (meaning it is 5 percent biodiesel and 95 percent petroleum diesel) or B20 (20 percent biodiesel), your existing tanks and other infrastructure will work just fine.
The same is true for your customers — diesel vehicles can run on biodiesel blends up to B20 without modification. And nearly all OEMs support blends up to B20.
Some retailers choose to blend petroleum diesel with biodiesel themselves. That may require investing in infrastructure, but the ROI is often quickly realized.
That’s what Sapp Bros., Inc., found with their travel center on Interstate 80 in Peru, Illinois. They converted a 12,000-gallon underground storage tank to hold straight biodiesel, or B100. The biodiesel is piped over to a loading station where petroleum fuel trucks come in. They use splash blending by loading the B100 into the top of a truck’s tank. The truck then unloads the blended fuel into tanks that feed the diesel islands.
“To get started with biodiesel, our infrastructure upgrades were minimal,” said Kevin Cassidy, Vice President of Sapp Bros. travel center and wholesale businesses. “It was around an eight-month payback on the cost.”
Finding a supplier
Once you decide to go with biodiesel, I’d recommend looking for a supplier that that can provide a full range of products, such as biodiesel blends, B100 and ULSD. Other factors when picking a supplier include how they can move product — truck, rail, ship, barge — and the extent of their terminal network.
And don’t forget value-added support that goes beyond the sales team, such as logistics and supply chain management, regulatory expertise, and technical support.
Beyond the pumps
Many retailers find that biodiesel blends attract customers who prefer the fuel for performance benefits or to meet sustainability goals.
“I’ve had drivers say it’s cleaned up their fuel systems, cleaned their fuel injectors, and they actually get better mileage with biodiesel blends versus a regular No. 2 ULSD because of the clean injectors,” said Cassidy.
Also, drivers attracted to your locations by your fuel offering can lead to them going inside your stores where your higher-margin items are for sale.
“At our travel centers, having a diverse lineup of fuels attracts a bigger customer base,“ said Cassidy. “Besides filling up with fuel, they’re inside your stores. They’re shopping, maybe getting something to eat. There are benefits to bringing in new faces.”
I'd love for you to experience those benefits too. Contact me at (515) 239-8166 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how you can get started with biodiesel.
Renewable Energy Group. REG is a leading North American advanced biofuels producer and developer of renewable chemicals. REG utilizes a nationwide production, distribution and logistics system as part of an integrated value chain model to focus on converting natural fats, oils and greases into advanced biofuels and converting diverse feedstocks into renewable chemicals. Learn more about.
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