After a long pandemic-induced hiatus, the National Biodiesel Board’s popular Exploring Biodiesel Regional Seminars (XBX) are back and better than ever. We will be holding these highly informative one-day training seminars in Boston, MA, at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf on Sept. 23 and in Madison, WI, at the Madison Concourse Hotel Sept. 30.
These courses are designed to educate fuel wholesalers, distributors, retailers, marketers, fleets, municipalities and other end-users on the benefits and opportunities surrounding the integration of low-carbon liquid fuels—including biodiesel and renewable diesel— throughout the national supply chain.
Much has changed in the political, regulatory, petroleum and biofuel landscapes since we first started holding these events, but one thing has not: our commitment to bring the audience the very best, most up-to-date information and valuable perspective from a lineup of the field’s leading experts. Since we began offering these courses, carbon policies have swept through North America like the powerful weather events experts say are caused by climate change. Virtually all levels of government are considering or enacting legislation to cut carbon on a path toward net zero in the coming decades. Thankfully, low- carbon, renewable, liquid heating fuels such as biodiesel-blended heating oil, also known as Bioheat® fuel, can get us much of the way there on the heating side of the equation.
Bioheat® fuel not only accomplishes significant carbon reductions, but it does so while providing environmental stewardship, energy security, rural and urban economic development, health benefits, and a much greater degree of environmental justice for communities of color and lower-income populations than electricity-powered airsource heat pumps.
I am a supply-chain specialist at my core. Although the backdrop and drivers of renewable transportation and home-heating fuels are shifting, the fundamentals of sound supply- chain economics for on- and off-road fuels—whether distillates gasoline, compressed natural gas, propane, Bioheat® fuel or electricity—will still permeate the XBX discussion and be featured center-stage.
XBX Boston, Sept. 23
Consider XBX Boston the industry’s gateway to a successful 2021-2022 heating season and a portal to the future, giving those in attendance a glimpse of what to expect years from now and not how to simply catch the train there, but how to drive it.
The roster of speakers for the Boston event is truly a star-studded lineup—okay, as star- studded as fuel industry professionals can be, anyway. They are well known and highly respected individuals from solid organizations. The National Biodiesel Board, Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association, National Oilheat Research Alliance, Project Carbon Freedom, Global Companies, Sprague Energy and Gulf Oil will present a comprehensive program that will reveal the next steps of this incredible journey toward a lower-carbon future.
In addition, XBX Boston will feature Jennifer Weaver, NBB’s OEM market development manager; Michael Ferrante, president of the Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association; Joseph Uglietto, president of Diversified Energy Specialists; Michael Trunzo, director of government affairs for Shenker, Russo & Clark; Stephen Dodge, NBB’s director of state regulatory affairs; and Matt Herman, NBB’s director of environmental science. Together they will celebrate the industry’s progress in transitioning the heating sector to a sustainable future while laying out the challenges ahead.
From production through consumption, dealers will learn how strategic thinking and execution will ensure a sustainable future for low-carbon liquid home heat—and their respective businesses. Some of the topics to be covered in Boston include:
• Evolving supply-chain dynamics
• Low-carbon liquid fuels update
• OEM positioning on low-carbon liquid fuels
• End-use applications and operability information
• National policy initiatives
After the event, which runs from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm, an optional Boston Harbor cruise will take place afterwards from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Registration for XBX Boston is free for fuel dealers. Outside vendors who wish to attend will be placed on a waiting list and, if room allows, will be offered admission for $225. Proceeds from any vendor-registration fees will be donated to an education fund in memory of Matt Allen from W.H. Riley & Son. The optional harbor cruise is free for all registered XBX Boston attendees.
XBX Madison, Sept. 30
Through the generosity of the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, Nebraska Soybean Checkoff and United Soybean Board, registration for XBX Madison is free and attendees are guaranteed a day of information that will reset expectations for growth.
The depth of coverage in Madison will be similar to Boston, noted in detail above, but tailored for the Badger State and surrounding region. Much more heating oil is consumed in Boston than in Wisconsin, however, so expect much of XBX Madison to focus on the transportation-fuels landscape, including:
• Evolving supply-chain dynamics
• Low-carbon liquid fuels update
• OEM positioning on low-carbon liquid fuels
• End-use applications and operability information
• National policy initiatives
• The clean-gasoline blueprint
“If fuel marketers in our region are looking for a report from the front lines of our industry’s battle for survival, this is it,” said Matthew Hauser, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. “Anti-carbon regulation is closing in on us from both coasts. Learn how to better position your business from industry experts who have a pulse on what’s working and what’s not.”
Bob Kenyon, vice president of sales and marketing for Renewable Energy Group—North America’s largest biodiesel producer and co-host of XBX Madison—called the event “the most comprehensive low-carbon liquid fuels educational seminar available anywhere in the nation. If you consume, market, trade or distribute liquid fuels, this is a can’t-miss event.”
Attendees can expect to gain valuable insight on how low-carbon liquid fuels can be leveraged not only as a cleaner burning, renewable alternative to diesel fuel, but as a means to increase market share and enhance the liquid fuels supply chain while providing end users with exceptional performance, efficiency, and cost benefits.
Joining us on stage in Madison will be NBB’s technical director Scott Fenwick and, once again, Jennifer Weaver, OEM market development manager for NBB. Together we will cover new and emerging policy initiatives, consumer trends, and potential pathways for organizations to move towards carbon neutrality while navigating the notable fuel challenges currently impacting diesel, gasoline, and heating-oil performance.
After the course, a tour of REG’s biodiesel production facility in nearby DeForest, Wisconsin, about 15 miles from Madison, is optional. The plant produces 20 million gallons of biodiesel a year. The event is free to attendees and a catered lunch will be provided.
Suppliers of diesel fuel and end-users alike—including fleets, universities, hospitals, corporate sustainability leaders, municipalities and others—interested in the operational, environmental, and cost benefits of low-carbon liquid fuels, will not want to miss this exciting event. We are prepared to present valuable information on how to effectively build a low-to zero-carbon liquid-fuels supply chain. I encourage anyone interested in learning how these existing and emerging technologies can empower their organizations as state and federal carbon reduction policies take effect to join us.
For registration and details on both events, visit exploringbiodiesel.com. ICM
On six occasions since the first of this year, and for a total of sixteen days, Con Edison and National Grid have required their Interruptible Customers to stop burning natural gas as temperatures dropped below twenty degrees. Both Utilities took similar steps last winter, but none of these events drew any press coverage to speak of. A few days after each curtailment, as the weather moderated and temperatures warmed the Utilities notified their Interruptible Customers that they could begin to burn gas again.
This has been common practice over the years and Utilities do this because they know the limitations of their distribution systems and the limitations of the interstate transmission lines that bring the fuel to the region to feed their systems. But as conversions to gas for space heating and electric generation have increased, the frequency of the interruptions appears to be increasing as well revealing a weakness in the Natural Gas supply line. As the weather gets colder, higher volumes of Gas are consumed for space heating and electric power generation. The general rule of thumb over the years has been 20 degree outside temperature and below is the point where they max out their ability to supply all of their customers. So to address this supply limitation, the Utilities’ have created a “Class” of customer, with the ability to “Change Over” to an alternate fuel (usually fuel oil), that the Utilities can “Shut-Off” when needed and divert their available Natural Gas to other customers. The trade-off here is that the Utilities offer to sell these “Interruptible Customers” Natural Gas at a discounted rate, during relatively warmer outdoor temperature conditions, if the customer agrees to stop burning Gas when notified by the Utility to do so. These Interruptible customers are usually larger volume commercial accounts like: apartment buildings, hospitals and schools; and most commercial industrial burner manufacturers offer an “Automatic Temperature Changeover” option that includes an outdoor sensor, specifically designed for this type of Interruptible application.
This may sound like a reasonable business model, but it points out two very serious shortcomings that the Utilities don’t like to talk about. The first is the fact that the Natural Gas infrastructure is already limited and cannot reliably supply all customers if the temperature falls below 20 degrees for any extended period of time. The second fact is that the Utilities “NEED” these “Interruptible Customers” and without them they simply cannot reliably supply all their customers during cold weather periods. Since the most common alternate fuel consumed by these Interruptibles when told to stop burning Gas is Fuel Oil, the Utility is in effect transferring the burden of their limited ability to supply their customers to the Heating Oil Market, and at a time when Oilheat too is experiencing higher than normal demand from its own customer base. Often times this causes the price of fuel oil to spike, and may even strain the entire Oilheat supply chain. So Oilheating Customers can see higher prices during these events driven mainly by the additional demand created by the need to supply Interruptible Gas Customers at a time of already high demand for fuel oil. I would suggest to you that this is unfair to Retailers and especially unfair to loyal Oilheat customers and shouldn’t be allowed by Utility Regulators.
With the plentiful supply of natural gas here in the United States, others have pointed out this limited ability to move that Gas to where it is needed during periods of high consumption. ISO New England’s CEO Gordon van Welie testified before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee last March saying that “the status quo is unsustainable.” AEC reported on this in a March 20, 2013 E-Alert entitled “Grid Chief Warns of Future NE Power Problems”. van Welie also noted that during the February Blizzard and resultant wide spread power outages a month earlier “…6,000 megawatts of electricity, about a fifth of the region’s total capacity, wasn’t available, in part because gas generators couldn’t find fuel [Gas]”.
Another ISO New England spokesperson, Marcia Blomberg said the organization was in the midst of a major study to determine if the region’s power grid has become too reliant on natural gas. AEC reported on this in a July 17, 2013 E-Alert entitled “New England’s Love Affair With Natural Gas Cools”. In that same story, van Welie was quoted as telling the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that “we are very close to the edge of reliability in very poor weather circumstances”.
Numerous other closely related subjects have been highlighted by AEC thru its weekly e-Alert blasts including: the planned shutdown of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant; warnings of limited gas supplies into New England by at least two Municipal Electric operators; the potential for electric rate volatility and increased costs and the planned shutdown of other coal fired generators. All of these articles are achieved on the AEC website americanenergycoalition.com. I would again urge you to visit the AEC website and Get The Facts. Then, armed with the facts, talk with your customers, neighbors, relatives and especially your elected officials and public policy makers and urge them to act responsibly. Our industry depends upon it. Not only are we losing customers to gas conversions, but when it gets cold, Oilheat is asked to bail out the very competitor that is taking our customers thru gas conversions. Instead of states advocating pipeline expansions and conversions from oil to gas, maybe the states should be placing a moratorium on any more gas conversions until the utilities get their act together and secure sufficient supply lines for their existing customer base.
We finished up April’s article addressing Combustion. So far, we have covered the “Meaning of Combustion,” “The Requirements for Combustion,” and the “Chemistry of Combustion”.
Still, after many years of working in the heating industry, and in particular on the gas side, I find that the study of combustion never ends. I am always learning something new. Years ago, when I started, we used “wet kits”—the old bottles which some are still using today. Those of us who did gas testing used both oxygen (blue stuff) and carbon dioxide (red stuff). Those, along with a draft gauge, thermometer and some kind of colorimetric ampoule for testing for carbon monoxide (CO) were basic tools.
I would sometimes find myself in the basement alongside the oil man doing similar testing, he on the oil boiler, myself on the gas. I used to notice that he only used the carbon dioxide bottle for testing. I was curious, so I asked, “Why no oxygen bottle?”
The oil man, being much older and wiser than the young pup of a gas man, stated that as long as a smoke test was done, the oxygen was not needed. I trusted he was older and more knowing than I, so I moved on. Those old timers also used to tell me that oil did not make carbon monoxide and that a “zero smoke” indicated no carbon monoxide, hence they very often did not test for CO.
I wonder, maybe, if that was why they had to clean the boilers so often. I have since learned that all fossil fuels can make CO. It was also a fact that oxygen readings should also have been taken. The old CO2 reading lined up on the fire finder, giving 80% efficiency, was many times off somewhat. So you do not misunderstand me, power burner oil systems have always been more efficient than atmospheric gas systems. The reason being the need for less “excess air” with the blower motor on the oil system compared to the gas system needing much more excess air. Today, as we move ever higher with our efficiencies on both oil and gas, we need even more to ensure “complete combustion.” Let’s talk about that as it relates to gas.
In April’s article, we showed an ideal model of complete burning of methane with oxygen. In gas appliances, air, rather than pure oxygen, is used to burn the gas. Air contains about 20 percent oxygen and 80 percent nitrogen.
- FIGURE 6–Click on image for larger view.
Figure 6 (p.8) shows the complete combustion of methane in air in terms of molecules and atoms. The same number of molecules (and atoms) of methane, oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapor appear as was the case in Figure 5 (April issue). Figure 6 differs from Figure 5 in that the nitrogen in the air is also shown.
Four nitrogen molecules are present in air for each oxygen molecule. The nitrogen does not take part in the burning process, so it appears in the products unchanged. The burning process shown in Figure 6 can be expressed in terms of cubic feet of gases (Figure 7).
- FIGURE 7–Combustion products from burning one cubic foot of natural gas. Click on image for larger view.
For each cubic foot of methane, ten cubic feet of air are needed for complete combustion. Eleven cubic feet of products are thus formed. These products consist of one cubic foot of carbon dioxide, two cubic feet of water vapor and eight cubic feet of nitrogen. All of these products must be vented or discharged from an appliance.
In actual practice, more air is supplied to the combustion process than the ideal amount shown in Figure 7. This additional air is called excess air. The gases vented from an appliance for each cubic foot of methane burned, then, will be 11 cubic feet plus whatever excess air passes through the appliance. Carbon dioxide and water vapor formed in burning plus the nitrogen in the reactants that entered with the combustion air together are called combustion products. The combined combustion products and excess air are called flue products.
Water and Condensation
Water is produced as a vapor in the burning of gas. If the flue products remain hot enough, water is discharged as vapor to the outside through a vent system. If the flue products should become cool, this water vapor starts to condense out as a liquid. The temperature at which liquid water forms from vapor is known as the dew point (See Figure 8).
- FIGURE 8–CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW. The dew point temperature at which condensation of water vapor would occur is slightly different for different vent gases. The dew point for LP products of combustion tends to be lower than when natural gas is burned. Also, the dew point temperature changes with the amount of excess combustion air used and the amount of dilution air introduced at the draft hood. In the chart at right are some representative dew point temeratures developed by an operating, natural gas, conventional (draft hood) furnace. Note as the excess/dilution air increases, the dew point temperature is lowered. This means the products ofcombustion would have to be cooled much lower before condensation would occur. Typically, for conventional furnaces, temperatures between 126° and 128°F are likely to cause condensation in the vent gases.
Condensing water vapor from combustion products has an advantage. More heat can be recovered, since heat is given up when the change takes place. Efficiency or useful heat transfer is improved. However, this gain is offset to some degree by some problems which may occur because of the presence of the water (condensate). For example, a storage water heater may drip water on the floor beneath it in the winter. The problem usually occurs when very cold water enters the tank, chilling combustion products below the dewpoint.
A more serious problem is corrosion, which may occur inside of heat exchangers, flueways and vent pipes where the water condenses. The temperature of the flue products in the center of these passageways may be well above the dewpoint, but close to the cold walls, the temperature may drop off sharply and condensation may take place on the walls. A range oven door may become momentarily fogged when the oven is first turned on. The gases contact the cool glass and water condenses. As the oven heats, the glass heats up and the fogging disappears.
With many of the new condensing type heating system,s the dew point is actually used to some advantage. Many new high efficiency pieces of equipment may actually condense in the flue. There are others which condense in the equipment. These actually use the condensing as a means to extract heat from the flue gases. In turn, this causes the temperature to drop and therefore condensing takes place. The latent heat which is removed from these flue gases is absorbed into the medium being heated. In some instances, the heat is absorbed into return water, as in the case of boilers. With warm air furnaces, a secondary heat exchanger is used. It is very much like a condensing coil used on air conditioning equipment. The secondary heat exchanger is located just above the blower compartment. Return air, blowing across the secondary heat exchanger, extracts heat to be used to warm the dwelling.
Figure 9 illustrates the total amount of air required for combustion of one cubic foot of gas, about 1,000 Btus, depending on the heat value of the gas. It is important to realize that typically, this air may come from within the room in which the equipment is located. If there is insufficient air, then a provision for outside air will have to be made. The procedure for determining this air will be covered in the section on Air for Combustion in a later article.
A gas-fired furnace should be equipped with a draft hood attached to the flue outlet of the appliance. The draft hood used on the appliance should be certified by the American Gas Association. Only gas conversion furnaces equipped with power-type burners and conversion burner installations in large steel boilers with inputs in excess of 400,000 Btuh are not required to have draft hoods.
- THE DRAFT HOOD–CLICK FOR LARGER VIEW
A draft hood is a device used to ensure the maintenance of constant low draft conditions in the combustion chamber. By this action, it contributes to the stability of the air supply for the combustion process. A draft hood will also prevent excessive chimney draft and downdrafts that tend to extinguish the gas burner flame. Because of this last function, a draft hood is often referred to as a draft diverter.
Draft hoods may be either internally or externally mounted, depending upon the design of the furnace. Never use an external draft hood with a furnace already equipped with an internal draft hood. Either vertical or horizontal discharge from the draft hood is possible.
- FIGURE 9–The total amount of air required for one cubic foot of gas. CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW
The combustion process involves the three things necessary for combustion Heat, Fuel and Air. With all things adjusted correctly a certain volume of products are produced, as illustrated in Figure 10. These products of combustion are part of what causes the transfer of heat in the equipment. A certain volume is necessary for proper venting of the remaining products of combustion. The basic “theoretical combustion” is the minimum necessary for proper combustion. The excess air is necessary to sustain proper combustion. An important factor is that excessive “excess air” reduces efficiency. There is, therefore, an ideal amount of excess air needed for proper combustion. If there are excessive amounts of air, the carbon dioxide is reduced and efficiency is also reduced.
- FIGURE 10
There is an ideal amount of CO2 and O2 that is necessary for proper combustion. A ratio of 8.5% to 9.5% CO2 is usually good. The oxygen should typically be above 4% for safe operation, keeping carbon monoxide at the lowest percent possible (under 100 PPM). For heating and water heating equipment, the ANSI Standard for allowable level of air free CO in the flue is 400 ppm (parts per million). For gas ovens, it is 800 ppm.
These are reasons why it is important to insure proper air for combustion and also proper venting. We should strive for the lowest CO reading possible in a flue sample. It is also important to understand that as draft is created in the vent or chimney, this aids in bringing the proper amount of air into the combustion process. The term “natural draft” refers to the draft created when the burner is running. The draft is created by the temperature difference in the flue and the height of the flue. The inclusion of “dilution air” introduced at the draft hood or barometric contributes to controlling the draft in the chimney from being excessive. Normal draft is measured in inches water column [#” WC]; it is typically a negative reading, such as -.02″, -.03″, -.04″ WC. Anything exceeding -.04″ is excessive draft and can cause equipment problems.
Hello again! This month has been quite a learning experience for me. I started April by being reminded of why I left the trade of auto and truck repair 27 years ago. I recall being under, over and inside the engine compartment of my daughter’s Jeep Grand Cherokee after it overheated and blew apart the plastic side tank of the radiator. Needless to say, it caused a very upset kid and a job for the local towing company in my area!
So, being in a proactive mindset, I decided to replace all that might cause another issue in the immediate future, so I replaced the radiator, water pump, all the hoses and thermostat. Very pleased with my effort, I started it up, and guess what? It overheated again in my driveway!
After inventing a few new curse words, I went online to find this is a very common problem with that model vehicle—the electric cooling fan relay fails due to high current draw from the fan. So the coolant gets drained again, the electric fan gets replaced, and it turns out the front bumper has to be removed to gain access to replace the relay!
Well, I’m an HVAC guy, and we know how to cut holes! So a hole gets cut after removing the passenger side headlamp, and the relay gets replaced without removing the bumper! The truck now runs great, the overheating mystery is solved, and I haven’t heard from my kid in weeks!
(I shouldn’t complain though—she aced her first year of college! I’m so proud of her!)
So with her truck fixed and out of my driveway, I’m off to start my night shift, and my first call of the evening is an oil leak. Actually, it was really ANOTHER oil leak! A few days earlier, a pinhole in a filter can caused quite a mess for this customer and the technician who was there to clean it up. Now I arrive to find the fuel unit shaft seal is actively leaking, requiring me to again clean up the spilled oil under the boiler and clean up the burner.
I had two more similar calls that week involving leaking filters, and since we’re now in the preventative maintenance time of season, I decided to do some homework on what my criteria should be to either reuse a filter can or simply replace the complete assembly. During my time in this trade, I’ve never had to replace a large filter can due to a pinhole leak, but I’ve had to replace many of the smaller cans. After a few phone calls to the filter manufacturers, I thought I’d share what I found:
- Click on image for larger view
The first is the filter can thickness: The 1A25 size is .065″; the 2A700 size is .076″ [See Figure 1]. The thicker metal of the larger can appears to make it more resistant to deforming when the bolt is over tightened. [See Figures 2, 3, and 4] In comparison, the spin on filter thickness is .020″.
With my mind still on torque values—after working on the Jeep—I wondered how tight the filter can bolt should be. After all the years doing this, I never knew. My good friend, Glen Bonelli from General Environmental, dropped off a few filter cans at the school while we were setting up for next semester, and for the first time, I was able to compare what happens to the can after the bolt is over-tightened. The bolt is tightened at the factory to 140 inch pounds.
- Click on image for larger view
Converting inch pounds to foot pounds gives us 11.66 foot pounds (inch pounds are divided by 12, the number of inches in a foot, to achieve footpounds; so 140 inch pounds divided by 12 = 11.66 foot pounds). Now I’m convinced I’ve overtightened many filters! I feel overtightening the bolt distorts and weakens the filter can, as you can see in the comparison photos.
The biggest cause of overtightening is when the paint under the bolt washer starts to flake off. In an effort to seal the leak underneath the bolt, the technician tends to tighten the bolt even more. To alleviate
- Click on image for larger view
this, I now scrape away all the paint under the sealing washer before reassembling the filter. I also take much more care in cleaning out the filter can before inspecting it and qualifying it for reuse. I found using a paste flux brush works great as a filter can cleaning brush. Any sign of rust, pitting, water staining, flaked or chipped enamel, or distortion of the bottom of the can from overtightening will disqualify the can for reuse. These days, you just can’t be too careful! [See Figure 5]
- Click on image for larger view
So how tight is approximately 12 foot pounds? After you feel the bolt start to snug, it’s then approximately one full turn, just like a spin-on filter. A spin-on filter is three-quarters to one full turn tight after the gasket makes contact.
In the last few years, there have been some design upgrades to the cartridge filter assemblies. The cans went from steel to galvanized steel to resist corrosion, and now, most are epoxy coated as well. The bottom bolt and nut have seen some strength improvements as well. [See Figures 6 & 7]
- Click on image for larger view
I also was curious to the micron rating of the filter elements:
Spin on: 10 micron
Felt: 10 micron *nominal
Cellulose Acetate: 10 micron nominal*
*Nominal means it will filter most of the 10 micron particles
- Click on image for larger view
I also now make sure the filter is properly supported, and prevent the can from resting on the concrete basement floor in case the vibration from misaligned burner fan might wear a hole in the bottom.
- Click on image for larger view
Well, that’s it for filters, but again, we can’t be too careful—any discoloration around the burner will prompt me to remove the fuel unit to check the shaft seal, a good way to prevent an additional clean up and an upset customer.
When replacing filters and inspecting burner components, a little more proactive time inspecting will save many more reactive headaches later!
Pool Heater clarification
While working on an “OIL HEAT CARES” project this month, I received some feedback on my pool heater article, and a mention was made I left the most important thing out of that article by my fellow OESP member, Tom Olsen. So, here it is, because he is ABSOLUTELY correct: After working on the pool heater, LEAVE IT OFF! That’s the proper procedure unless instructed differently by the customer. If left running, it’s a given that a call to the office will follow, with the customer asking to be reimbursed for the fuel used while it was left on! It’s happened to me!
Following are examples of jobsites I have seen over the past heating season.
Each one was exhibiting some type of problem
due to someone either ignoring the standard installation practices or thinking
the job was located in an area where the “laws of physics” did not apply.
A large apartment complex in the downtown Boston
area was experiencing some very severe overheating
with their steam system. The Management Company
had recently purchased a weather-responsive control
from our company. This control was suppose to measure
the indoor temperature, the outdoor temperature
and then make a decision on how long the burner/boiler
should run to satisfy the building’s heating needs.
I met with the service technicians who were trying to
figure out the problem. We started by going through
the operation of the control. Within a few minutes,
we found one of the problems. One of the components
of these weather-responsive controls is a sensor that
is located near the end of a steam supply main. It is
wired back to the control and its purpose is to sense
when there is temperature in the system. This tells
the control that steam has been distributed throughout
the building. The control will let the boiler run for so
many minutes, then keep it off for so many minutes,
based upon the heating cycle. However, none of this
can happen until the “steam-established” sensor measures
temperature in the system.
In this system, someone installed the sensor on a
return line that had long been disconnected from the
system. That’s why the building was overheating. The
sensor never “sensed” any temperature, so the control
kept telling the boiler to run and run! The boiler was
cycling off its pressure control. The solution was to relocate
the sensor to one of the steam mains.
As we walked through the building, I noticed the
basement apartments, which were on the same grade
as the boiler room, had two-pipe radiators with
s t e a m t r a p s .
The steam system had no condensate return
p u m p s , o n l y gravity returns. Logically, these
radiators should be filled with water all the time
because they are below the water line of the boiler.
Nevertheless, I was told they were working fine.
I asked the maintenance man if he knew anything
about these radiators and he started to smile, then
said, “Follow me.” He took us outside to the courtyard
and pointed to all the holes in the building where pipes
were draining water. Every basement radiator was
piped to the outside where its condensate was dumped!
No wonder they were “working.” Of course, the makeup
water was eating the cast-iron sections for lunch
and the fuel usage had to be excessive, but at least the
basement apartments were warm!
Here’s a good one—and it’s true! A local service
manager contacted me to look at a heating system
his installation department had installed
two years ago. The system consisted of five
zones of baseboard and one indirect water heater. They
installed a good air separator with a diaphragm expansion
tank and pressure-reducing valve on the supply.
They also installed all the circulators on the supply,
“pumping away” from the expansion tank. That is why
he had me at the job. It turns out the homeowner was
threatening to sue the Oil Company because the circulators
were on the supply-side of the system. Huh???
Recently, the homeowner had a family party and a
relative, who happens to be a plumber, looked at the
heating system and proudly exclaimed, “This system
will never work! These circulators have to be installed
on the return so they can pull the water back from the
He explained that these circulators would never be
able to lift the water out of the boiler, which is why
the system will never heat! Mind you, the system has
gone through one heating season and is now entering
its second one. Of course, the house has heated wonderfully.
Nevertheless, the “plumbing relative” convinced
the homeowner that his heating will not work and that
is why he is suing the Oil Company. So here is a little
warning to all you who believe in locating your circulators
on the supply. We all know it is the better way to
install circulators. The system operates more quietly,
with no gurgling or sloshing noises. But, make sure you
tell your customers to keep their relatives away from
their new heating systems!
This last job was interesting…the steam system
had both its main vents and radiator vents on
the first floor spitting water. Naturally, in addition
to the spitting, there was a fair amount
of water hammer. I met one of the service technicians
at the job and he walked me around the building.
The system was a one-pipe steam system with a gravity wet-return.
One of the things I noticed was, at the end of each main
and at the base of each riser, a float and
thermostatic trap was installed. The outlet of each trap then
drained into the wet-return that ran on the floor
around the basement and into the Hartford Loop. We
walked over to the boiler and checked out the settings
on the pressuretrol. It was set for five pounds and the
differential was set for two pounds. This meant the
system’s pressure operated between three and five psi.
I was starting to see the cause of the problem. We then
measured the distance between the outlets of the traps
and the water line of the boiler. There was only three
feet of vertical distance between them. When you have
steam traps in a system, remember that one of the
functions of the trap is to prevent the steam from getting
past the trap and into the return lines. The traps
on this job were working fine. Unfortunately, in this
situation, it was the cause of the problem. This was a
one-pipe system with gravity returns. There were no
condensate or boiler feed pumps, so there was no need
for the traps. Why someone bothered to install them is
Without any steam pressure in the return, the only
help the returning condensate had to overcome the
pressure in the boiler was its static pressure. For every
pound of pressure in the boiler, the water would have
to stack up 30″. In this system, the boiler was running
between three and five pounds. Therefore, the water
would have to stack up 90″ to 150″ (7′ to 12′) to enter
This explains why the vents were spitting water. As
the boiler was firing and building steam pressure, the
condensate returning from the system was “stacking”
in the returns, trying to develop enough pressure to
overcome the pressure in the boiler. Eventually, the
condensate backed up high enough to reach the first
floor radiator vents. This situation also explained why
the boiler was flooding. Initially, they thought it was
a defective water feeder, so they replaced it. However,
when the problem persisted, they asked for help. We
concluded that while the condensate was backing up
in the system, trying to overcome the boiler pressure
and was not able to return to the boiler. This obviously
affected the water level, causing the automatic feeder
to add make-up water into the boiler. Once the system
satisfied and shut the boiler off, the leftover steam
condensed in the boiler, allowing all the water out in
the system to drain back. This raised the water level
to the point of flooding the boiler.
The quick solution to this system’s problem was to
replace the pressuretrol with a vaporstat. The vaporstat
allowed us to set the maximum pressure at 14
ounces. By keeping the pressure low in the boiler, the
condensate would not have to stack any higher than
28-30″, which was still below the F&T traps. We also
added extra main vents near the end of each main to
improve the venting capacity. This helped prevent the
burner from short cycling due to the lower pressure
If you have any questions or comments, e-mail me at
[email protected] or call me at FIA. 1-800-423-7187 or
follow me on Twitter at @Ask_Gcarey
For a decade, Bioheat has been navigating a roadmap originally designed by oil heat leaders to gain acceptance as a solution toward the mitigation of declining consumer interest in oil heat.
Wait, did I say roadmap? What roadmap? There is none. At times, it appears that industry professionals work off several versions of a roadmap, but for whatever the reason, default back to business as usual. The industry’s sustainability clock continues to tick and still struggles with consumer anxiety that, based on pricing alone, oil heat is simply not relevant any longer. No need to get into the other issues. Consumers frown on oil heat because price matters, as we all know.
So where does this leave Bioheat and its future as a cleaner burning blend stock for oil heat if we don’t take the steps required to share the benefits with our customers ? Consumers, like thoroughbred race horses, are in the starting gate— anxious to fast track toward natural gas and other home heating strategies that offer them relief. The answer is the same fix as oil heat itself.
With that, I turn my attention to the service technician. The professional service technician has more face time with the customer than anyone in the supply chain. For that reason alone, they are possibly the last link in the entire supply chain to reach out to a customer and let them know that a reformulated oil heat certainly deserves a second chance. The industry mantra used to be, “Oil Heats Best”—not so today in many consumer’s judgment. The goal of Bioheat has always been, “Making Oil heat Better.” A reminder on how that goal gets accomplished is sharing the many attributes that can back the phrase and sustain the industry’s ticking clock.
As a refresher, Bioheat fuel is the name given to any blend of conventional, petroleum-based home heating oil and pure biodiesel, an alternative fuel produced through the chemical transformation of vegetable oils and animal fats. In other words, it is the space-heating equivalent of transportation biofuels, which are blends of biodiesel and conventional petroleum-based diesel fuels. Biodiesel blends are identified by their volume relative to the conventional fuel. Thus, B100 is the term used for pure biodiesel, while B5 Bioheat fuel describes a blend of five percent biodiesel and 95 percent conventional heating oil. Bioheat fuel offers several advantages over traditional fuel oil:
• Contributes to energy security and economic development. As domestically produced Bioheat fuel further penetrates the market for heating fuels (in parallel with the growth of biodiesel as transportation fuels), it will add security to the nation’s energy supply and provide new outlets for the nation’s agricultural products
• Reduces greenhouse gas emissions. If the agricultural feedstock is grown and harvested sustainably, thereby maximizing the feedstock’s carbon storage potential, combustion of Bioheat fuel can result in little to no net emissions of carbon dioxide. The fact that biodiesel is America’s only Advanced Biofuel confirms that it does in fact reduce GHG emissions under the rules issued in the EPA program known as the Renewable Fuels Standard.
• Delivers other environmental benefits. Compared to conventional heating oils, Bioheat fuel is cleaner burning. Laboratory studies and field trials conducted over the past decade in heating applications have documented reduced nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur oxide, carbon dioxide, and particulate emissions, as well as lower smoke and odor production. In doubt? Don’t be—all which has been touted about Bioheat has been documented by countless reputable organizations, one being Brookhaven National Laboratory, which has worked to help the oil heat industry become more technologically advanced. If that weren’t enough, they have been spearheading fuel quality investigations since the late 1980s and for good cause.
• Stability and cold weather performance. If properly blended, biodiesel will go into solution with heating oil and will not separate. Cold weather conditions can affect the performance of biodiesel. Higher percentage blends (i.e., above B20) have a tendency to crystallize, and then gel, as the ambient temperature goes down, affecting their ability to flow properly. These cold flow issues are less significant at or below a B20 blend (they may appear at temperatures 2-5 degrees warmer than they would with conventional heating oil). Since Bioheat fuel is generally offered at no more than B20, but most often, at a conforming blend, (B2–B5), standard precautions associated with conventional heating oil, such as blending with kerosene, or the use of cold weather additives, can help maintain proper flow characteristics.
• Clogging of burner components. Higher blends of biodiesel can act as a cleaning agent in the fuel tank and thus can help dissolve or loosen accumulated sediments, which might then become deposited in components such as filters, strainers, and nozzles. Higher blends will have a greater cleaning effect similar to a premium fuel additive, which is designed to mobilize tank sludge and sedimentation. Countless field tests have demonstrated that blends up to B20 have the potential to minimize clogging once the older, accumulated deposits have been removed, since the Bioheat fuel burns more cleanly and leaves fewer residues.
• Compatibility with tanks and components. The National Biodiesel Board is a great source for verifying compatibility concerns. The empirical data retained at NBB reveals that all known tanks and systems, including gaskets, seals, hoses, and O-rings, are compatible (i.e., will not be adversely affected by) with Bioheat fuel blends of up to 20 percent biodiesel (B20). However, given the lack of long-term experience with the fuel, the Bioheat Technical Steering Committee (BTSC) is committed to ensuring that Bioheat is safe for use in blends up to 20%. At this time, the BTSC is working on demonstrating “no harm” which the industry will ultimately attest to be “legacy safe.”
So why rely on the service technician when it relates to confirming the benefits associated with Bioheat? Simple, they don’t just talk about it—they live it. They work on the equipment; they handle the parts and know that their customers at the moment may not really be content with the current offering. For those fuel dealers that have made the move to market and sell Bioheat, it’s an exciting and challenging time to be an oil heat dealer. They have chosen to take advantage of Bioheat and help lead their company and their industry into the next generation. Bioheat is a simple choice and a smart solution that results in a better fuel for your customers and ultimately, an improvement in the dealer’s bottom line—ask a technician!
As a general rule, the most profitable and most loyal customers that a heating oil dealer has are those who participate in price-protection programs. Whether it is the programs that the dealer offers that makes for loyalty, or simply the nature of customers who select programs in the first place, is a matter of conjecture. However, knowing that your most loyal customers are ones who also allow for steady and predictable margins is a very good thing.
While bearing in mind the value of the price program customer, and at times bemoaning the challenges of those customers who are not on pricing plans (the “variable” or “rack-plus” customers), there are some challenges which can be faced by dealers in adhering to the program agreements, while still achieving desired profitability. When dealers offer programs, there are a number of assumptions that are built into those offers. The most important of which, depending upon whether the offer is for a fixed-price sale or a capped-price sale, is how to actually buy the product that will eventually—IN THE FUTURE—be delivered to customers at a price that will allow for the desired profit margin.
There are several methods of buying, and each has its own potential benefits and drawbacks:
- You can buy oil and put it into storage. The benefit is that you absolutely know the fixed-cost of that product. The downside is the expense of purchasing product (and possibly the hedging) potentially many months before delivering the oil.
- You can fix your price with a supplier, and lift the product at that fixed price, during the winter months. This is a preferred method by many, but does come with it the risk that the diff that had been locked in many months before will simply be well higher than the diffs available at that time.
- You can buy oil at the best rack every day. That has the definite benefit of comparative shopping (at least being able to compare the prices of the suppliers with whom you have credit), but also has the risk of everyone’s diffs being well higher than where you “thought” they would be.
- You can fix your diff, and pull rack gallons, at your discretion, each day—indexed to THAT DAY’S Merc (of Platt’s) price. This is a more common choice for larger dealers, and it does come with the same risks of “maybe there is a lower diff out there” that other methods have.
Graphic Copyright 2013 Bloomberg L.P.
Each choice then needs to be considered when planning for both your program and your non-program gallons. Then, it needs to be further refined when considering the possibilities— greater in certain areas than others—of supplier outages, and variances in the weather/demand part of the equation.
This past year, whether from the ULSD change in New York State, or the result of Superstorm Sandy, diffs varied more than any time in recent memory (variance of particular rack to Merc, from Nov.-Feb. See attached chart). As the industry all-too-often (over)reacts to the most recent occurrences, there will, no doubt, be a rush to fix prices and diffs on many more gallons than were done for this past winter.* What we are finding is that the notion of fixing the diff, however you decide to get it done, should definitely be a part of any purchasing plan, and you need to shop around and seek suppliers who can help you get what you are after.
The “need” for the fixed diff supply is most prominent in order to supply program gallon customers, but not nearly as important for variable customers (let’s face it, when in a bind, the variable customer is the one who ends up taking it on the chin, price-wise, anyway). However, protecting the costs of variable sales via fixed diffs can have some clear benefits as well—though, perhaps, not enough to protect 100% of the variable sales. Though you certainly can push the envelope on margins with variable customers, all too often, dealers end up playing catch-up after changes in diffs take a bite out of their profits. Scrambling to “make up” lost margins on those variable accounts is also part of the reason that “variables” are the most likely to shop for other dealers. So, while your fixed-diff needs are not the same for variable customers as for program customers, serious consideration needs to be made there, as well.
Hedges generally tie-in best with fixed diffs, and that would be another reason to consider shying away from them (i.e., no hedge needed) for variable sales, but in certain areas, if the variances in the diffs is so pronounced, then you might want to consider fixing a bit more than simply for your program gallons.
The retail heating world has changed. There is no longer that same allowance for variances to planned margins or other budget items. Though perhaps a broken record (CD? MP3? Vine? Harlem Shake?), working to set up a budget, and finding a way to best adhere to that budget, may be the single biggest planning task that you can undertake in the “off season”.
*Contrast that with dealers who, coming into this winter, thought that a cold winter was something that could never happen again, in the aftermath of the winter of ’11-’12, and shied away from committing to too many gallons.
Tired of customer attrition? Worried about lost volume, record high prices and pressure from discounters? Experiencing increased natural gas conversions? Your technicians are an integral part of addressing all of these issues facing you today. But here is the dilemma: you have trained them to fix equipment and resolve problems, not interact with the customer and sell, sell, sell.
Has this happened to you? Mrs. Jones, a long time loyal customer, calls in one day to close her account. You get on the phone and ask Mrs. Jones why she is leaving you. She relates that she had an A/C problem this past summer and has replaced her system. The HVAC Company that she called to fix her A/C recommended gas; she replaced the furnace and A/C at the same time. The kicker is she never knew you worked on A/C; your technicians never recommended new equipment or even mentioned your A/C services to her.
Then there’s Mr. Smith, another longtime customer who had a problem with his boiler. He called the local plumber (instead of you, possibly because your technician didn’t want to do the work), who recommended a new gas boiler because Mr. Smith’s unit was 30+ years old and inefficient. Your technicians never recommended new equipment or informed Mr. Smith that you offer plumbing services.
As I travel and meet with marketers today, I hear an increasing frustration with the utilization of their work force. Their businesses are under pressure, they are losing sales and customers, and when the issue is addressed, the technicians say, “What you want from me? I’m doing my job. I’m answering service calls and doing tune-ups.” When Marketers challenge them to recommend repair vs. replace, provide indoor air quality options and drive billable work, the technician’s rebuttal is, “It’s not my job; you didn’t hire me to be a salesman.” Yet it is their job and will be going forward. You have to recruit, hire and train technicians with sales skills to compete and thrive in today’s environment.
Change your hiring practices
Stop hiring the “other guy’s” technician. Unless the business went under, why would you hire his cast-off? Get off the treadmill of swapping technicians with your competitor and start hiring with new skill sets in mind. Interpersonal skills, selling skills and a desire to provide superior customer service should come before training and certifications. Interview and reference questions should focus around these important skills and abilities. Ask the candidate how much he sold in the previous 12 months. How much time does he spend during a service call speaking with the customer? What does he think about the new equipment available today and of making recommendations when appropriate?
When I meet with technicians, I hear these typical objections: “I wasn’t hired to sell; I fix things,” “we charge too much for our equipment and services,” “if we replace a lot of older equipment, they won’t need me anymore,” “there’s nothing wrong with the older equipment, you’re asking me to sell customers things they don’t need or want.”
It is essential that you break down these objections. In actuality, you charge fair market value for your equipment and services—in some cases, you aren’t charging enough. The fundamental fact is, if you aren’t selling, someone else will, and you will lose both the customer and the sale. Technicians have to sell (only when appropriate, honestly and ethically), and if you have some that won’t, you need to replace them.
May I make a suggestion? Next time you need to hire a technician, recruit an experienced HVAC technician from one of the local HVAC companies. You typically have some recruiting advantages: you guarantee a 40 hour work week (a lot of HVAC companies do not), fair wage and benefits, and the opportunity to sell, sell, sell. It is easier to teach the oil side of the business and a good HVAC technician is not only competent technically on A/C, gas and heat pumps (all your oil burner guys are too, right?), he already knows how to sell or he wouldn’t have lasted at an HVAC company! I’ve done this successfully a number of times and the best part is, once on board, they start influencing their peers. The HVAC technician gets it; he is trained to sell and has good interpersonal skills to delight the customer. Some of your oil burner technicians will never get this and you have some hard choices to make in order for your business to compete and thrive. Start now, after the next technician quits or retires; hire an HVAC technician and watch what happens.
Sales training for the technicians is very important. Lead tracking is a must and leads need to be tracked, assigned to a technician and an outcome achieved. Incentive plans are critical to the success of the program. Incentives also need to be tracked and paid in a timely, accurate manner; nothing kills morale more with your technicians than if they think they aren’t getting paid. The beauty of the incentive plan is the technicians give themselves a raise! How many times have you had a conversation about a raise based on the technician’s hourly rate? Do you base it on time with the company, performance or licenses held? Times are tough and giving raises isn’t easy. Use the incentive plan and let the technicians give themselves a raise with no limits!
Profitability in your service department has never been more important. Keeping the competition out of the basement is critical and involving your technicians in the selling process is an integral component. Full service dealers must treat their service departments as stand-alone profit centers much like an HVAC company does. Your technicians must sell and you need to train them and set expectations. Remember, if you don’t, someone else will.
Tim Quinn is a Regional VP for ServicEdge™, which specializes in the oil heat and propane industry and helps full service marketers improve profitability in their HVAC businesses.
Tim can be reached at:
[email protected], or (443) 510-2613.
I have been out as late as 10pm on May 30th in pitch black darkness, in the rain, to get a pool heater running because of a customer threatening to quit. I guess if had that kind of money to heat a swimming pool, let it cool down, only to reheat it again, @ $$$$.9 a gallon, or therm, maybe I would think things differently. It is with this in mind, for my April submission (with the hope that some office staff views this) that I share a few thoughts that may save some unnecessary call backs for us in the field, and reduce stress for the customer service staff in the office.
Before dispatching a technician to service a pool account :
#1a) The pool must be opened first! “Opened” means the Pool Company—or customer—has had the pool filled to the proper level; the pool already cleaned/serviced; strainers clear, pool pump running—with its strainer cleaned; pool filter cleaned, replaced, or backwashed depending on type of filtration used, and all electric to the heater/ pump filtration system be in full working order.
#1b) The customer MUST be home during the service call. He or she should be aware that someone will be there that day. I hate going into a gated yard with no one home—there may be a dog on the other side! I have also walked in through a closed gate where the woman of the home was working on a “no tan line tan” and did not expect me. Very awkward!
It is very important to have the customer on-site during this service, as the entire system can be put on line and perhaps avoiding the inevitable callback to answer any questions about the system at a later time.
I hate to see chlorine tabs in the strainer baskets. This is quite common, and will ruin the heater. Customers are amazed when I inform them of this. “The chlorine belongs in the chlorinator and goes into the pool first—not into the heater inlet at full strength.
During the winterization process, the fuel source may be turned off. If it’s an oil fired unit, there may be oil valves shut off inside the home. I’m most concerned about a valve closed on the return line. UGH!
I need to note the tank fuel level. If it’s a natural gas unit, I need to get to the meter. If propane, I need to get to the tank to perform a gas line pressure test. I may have to get to the electric panel.
If they have an Aqua-link control, we have to check that the indoor panel communicates with the outdoor control.
There could be water leaks that need attention. The heater may need some work that is not covered by a service agreement. There may be a noise complaint, or an insufficient heat complaint caused by trying to save fuel by not running the heater long enough. And then there’s the very common spider in the gas orifice, or woodland creature problem, where one of nature’s rodents moved into the heater over the winter and just had to sharpen its teeth on the wiring. That, by the way, helps with both job security and billable revenue.
#2) IMPORTANT! The heater is not to be started or run unless checked/serviced first! This is a very expensive appliance. Some are no longer manufactured, and getting parts for them is difficult. Over the winter, it is also very common for the heat exchanger to become restricted by rust from the smoke pipe, smoke hood, or by the aforementioned Mr. or Mrs. Woodland Creature that has moved in and built a nest. I have come across so many units that have been heat damaged, and the costly repairs could have been avoided by a service before start up.
The ignition delays on gas and propane units are quite frightening, could cause damage, and they, too, can be avoided. A tip to those who work on natural gas or propane units—have a combustion gas sniffer turned on, and placed next to you while working and before lighting the unit. A few burners may light, and some gas spillage could occur if there’s a blockage in the remaining burners. You can’t see a gas flame in daylight. The gas sniffer will warn you in advance of gas spillage. I learned this hard way while working on a propane unit without a gas sniffer.
Dry leaves are very flammable, as are whatever the woodland creatures bring in to make their nest. A check or cleaning of the heat exchanger and the removal of flammables will save a very costly repair or unit replacement.
Ok, with all that off my mind, a few more random thoughts:
Homework in this industry never stops. It’s important that those who work on these units become very familiar with how a multiport valve works, and all of its functions. Never move the handle with the pump running; you will blow out the spider gasket.
Be careful of how long you backwash the filter. At 70 gallons a minute, you could drop the water level below the skimmer ports in the pool. It happened to people I know while they were distracted and talking on a Nextel.
You should know how to backwash the pool filter, rinse, and place the unit back into filtration mode, if you suspect a pressure switch defect. It’s hard to collect money for a pressure switch replacement, when they have the exact same problem after the repair, and the problem was a restricted filter that only needed a backwash.
On many units, there is also a mixing valve that needs to be set by flow, or temperature differential.
On units with a pressure switch, it must be checked, making sure there is no water restriction, or air leaks in the pool pump plumbing. View the sight window in the pump assembly. You shouldn’t see any cavitation.
Low flow: inspect the pump impeller for leaves. Very common. I always check the pressure switch by turning off the pool pump first, turning on the heater, then turning on the pool pump—in that order. Once the water pressure builds, the heater should start. The pool pump should run at least 20 minutes after the heater is turned off. If both are shut down simultaneously, the heater becomes a $ 4,000.00 percolator as the water in the heat exchanger flashes to steam, and you will think the heater is ready for lift-off! (“Failure may then be its only option.”) The aqua-link control has this off delay built in.
A mechanical time clock should be checked that the end switch is properly wired and operational.
Any severe rust, or staining on the powder coated heater jacket is a sign of excessive heat, and the heater and pump may be shutting off at the same time.
Another tip to make life a little more comfortable: personally, I can’t understand why it feels like I’m in a Vietnam war movie every time I have to work on one of these heaters. I’ve never seen in any installation instruction manual that the heater has to be camouflaged by all types of plantings that usually poke me in the eyes as I try to get to it. I always have a can of “Deep Woods Off™” handy—to ward off ticks, and those nasty “tiger mosquitoes.” I also bring out to the heater a can of wasp spray, and give the heater a good bang before starting any work. I’ve removed the smoke hood only to then get stung several times. Learn to check for “yellow jackets” on every call before starting any work. Be aware of what poison ivy and poison oak look like as well.
I did not get manufacturer-specific for a reason. I keep the manuals on my van with the wiring and part numbers for the common units I work on. If any reps out there have some technical tips pertaining to their product, I’m sure this publication would put it in print. To those reps: “If we can’t service it—we can’t sell it!” I look forward to seeing you in Hershey May 19th-23rd, and best of all, I won’t have to service any of these heaters during the convention.
Stay safe! Wayne
Past & Present
It has been a long, action-packed decade for Bioheat® market development. Much has been written about what has been referenced as the Oilheat industry’s renaissance. Thousands of road miles, countless professional management hours and millions of dollars have been invested both in validating Bioheat technical performance characteristics as well raising oil heating consumers’ awareness of this terrific home heating oil.
Having just achieved its largest production year yet with over 1.1 billion gallons of biodiesel produced in 2012, the U.S. biodiesel industry celebrated 20 years of momentum and growth during the 2013 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo held early February in Las Vegas. The upcoming year will be packed with more communication, education and outreach for fuel oil dealers eager to step outside their comfort zone as they move closer to 21st century business strategies, the core centered on Bioheat marketing.
Paul Nazzaro is Principal of the Nazzaro Group and frequently represents the National Biodiesel Board. Jacqueline Devine crafted the proposed legislation when she was 13.
I have had the privilege of meeting thousands of individuals during the years I have spent sharing the biodiesel and Bioheat message. One person who has made an impact with me is Jacqueline Devine. She resides in Westport Connecticut with her parents, Michael and Catherine, and her brother Cole. I need not say more about Jacqueline other than sharing with you her story on how she set out to make a difference. Making a difference starts with establishing goals, objectives and dreams and not yielding until you make your mark. There can be no debate; Jacqueline made her mark and, more importantly, she and her friends are your future customers. Listen to what they have to say.
Each era is defined by something different. Whether it’s an economic, political, or social shift, each generation of individuals brings something new to America that helps to shape it into the country it is today.
During my past few years in High School, I have been continuously told that my generation is defined as the ‘Green Generation.’ We, as a body of people, represent a change from conventional to revolutionary by means of technology and more importantly, energy.
Just a few generations ago, people relied heavily on fossil fuels to power their homes, factories, and vehicles. No one knew the dangers or limitations of the fuel and no one could project that in a matter of decades, there would be a shortage and an environmental crisis across the globe.
We, as the new generation, have come to realize that this conventional fuel isn’t the magical source of energy it used to be. We have come to realize that there needs to be a change. This change will inevitably be alternative energy. America will, at some point in the near future, need to develop alternatives to petroleum that can fulfill the demands and the power of oil.
There have been many proposed methods of energy use. Some of which include solar, wind, hydrogen cells, nuclear fission and fusion, and Biofuels. Like fossil fuels, each energy source has its upside and downside. Implementing solar, wind, and chemical reaction energies can take an exponentially larger amount of money than using oil. They can require infrastructure far beyond the means of many American households.
The biggest upside to Biofuel is that it can be used in place of heating oil. In other words, there is no need to change a home’s heating system. So long as a home, building or vehicle has a diesel engine, it can be powered by Biofuels.
However, the concept of alternatives can still frighten the average American citizen. To some politicians, Americans, and even kids my age, Biofuels are just something that may, or may not, replace petroleum in the future. Some see it as an inconvenience or unnecessary. Some see it as too controversial or even ‘weird.’ But I have come to realize that if you look at the big picture, biodiesel is the solution to the oil, economic, and job crisis in America.
I too fell into the category of naysayers until I was in middle school. When I was eleven, I saw ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ a movie based around the concept of global warming and the effect it was going to have on the world. I can remember leaving the theatre being stunned and driven to make a change. At 14, I was determined to take a stand with the resources available to me.
When I was a freshman in High School, I joined a club called JSA (Junior Statesmen of America). I had always been vocal regarding domestic and international conflicts and JSA would give me the opportunity to debate and become a leader. However, throughout my first two years in JSA, there was no defining moment where I felt like I had made a difference. It wasn’t until my junior year when that changed.
Each winter, my school’s JSA chapter would go to Washington, D.C. to debate a docket of bills that had been hand selected by our club’s student officials. I had submitted bills freshman and sophomore year, but only my junior year bill was accepted. I was elated and eager to debate something that I felt was such a hot topic.
To me, it was more than just a bill. It was my opportunity to make a difference. The bills that passed through the convention would be sent to the U.S. House of Representatives for deliberation. If I could get my bill passed, it would be in the hands of the most influential people in the country.
With the help of two other peers, I passed the bill during my convention and it was sent to Capitol Hill. I can’t explain the happiness I felt when I heard the Senate chair state, “This bill passes.”* It was almost as if I felt I had fulfilled my American duty with my efforts to make a change. I accomplished something that I had always wanted and can now say that I have begun my journey to making my change.
And even now, as I look back one year later, I feel as though a fire has been lit within me to continue to make this change. I want to continue to be the leader that I was in Washington D.C. I want to help promote the benefits of Biodiesel and Biofuels. But most importantly, I want to be able to influence the people around me to make decisions that will ultimately help America in its prosperous future.
Lesson learned; never underestimate the passion and drive of our young adults. Jacqueline was determined to take a stand with the resources available to her. Fuel oil dealers like yourself have countless resources available to you that will help jump start your transition to Bioheat. It’s a simple fork in the road which you face: continue to sell carbon or sell the new improved home heating oil, Bioheat.
“If not Bioheat, then what”? 978-258-8360.
Paul Nazzaro, The Nazzaro Group,
FOLLOWING IS THE TEXT OF JACQUELINE’S BILL. It was passed by a mock Congress and was then sent on to an actual congressperson. Jacqueline was 13 years old when she presented this bill:
The contents of the bill Jacqueline introduced are listed below:
809H A BILL TO REDUCE EMISSIONS FROM FACTORIES ACROSS AMERICA BY SWITCHING TO BIODIESEL
Factories in America are one of the leading causes of global warming. They produce 40% of the pollution in the United States. Each year, over 20,000 factories in the U.S. produce four billion pounds of toxic chemicals that are admitted into the atmosphere. […] Factory emissions contribute to these gases in the atmosphere and further the harmful effects of pollution. Alternative fuels, such as Biodiesel, can be created out of soybeans, corn, algae, and other renewable resources. Biodiesel burns cleaner than regular conventional heating oil, and is better for the environment. If factories switch their oil system from a fossil fuel to Biofuel, then the rate of gases emitted will not only decrease, but also the Biodiesel will better the environment due to the fact that the oil is renewable.
BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that:
Section 1: Large factories across the U.S. shall switch from the use of conventional oil to Biodiesel. Large factories shall be classified as a building producing extensive amounts of products that are purchased by many Americans.
Section 2: The money needed to support the transfer to Biodiesel shall be funded by the recent tax incentives passed in regards to alternative energy.