Tri-State Biodiesel's triple play in fashion, tribute and heating

By Ron Kotrba | September 17, 2013

Last week, New York City’s Lincoln Center, one of the most well-known arts and cultural institutions in the world, was fashion central as the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, New York City's single largest media event, kicked into high gear. Designers from across the globe rolled out their spring 2014 lines sported by supermodels strutting down runways whose lights were powered by B20.  

Dehran Duckworth, a managing partner at Tri-State Biodiesel, said this was the first year Tri-State Biodiesel won the contract to supply the Aggreko plc generators and temperature control equipment for the virtual “tent city” with its 20 percent biodiesel fuel. “It was an uphill push getting them to agree to run on B20,” Duckworth told Biodiesel Magazine. Bidding against other suppliers, Duckworth said Tri-State Biodiesel was able to hit the right price point since New York State only taxes the petroleum portion of a B20 blend.

“They said, ‘Your fuel is so clean that it shut down our units, and we had to change the filters,” Duckworth said. Fortunately, Aggreko was savvy enough to understand that the cleansing properties of the biodiesel blend freed up residues left behind from years of petroleum use. He said in the future, Aggreko may dedicate some of its equipment for biodiesel blends to avoid similar issues.

Earlier this month in New York City, the Twin Towers Tribute Lights shined brightly, as they have each year since the terrorist attack violently took the World Trade Center Twin Towers down on Sept. 11, 2001. The lights, said to be the strongest shafts of light ever projected from Earth into the night sky, are a visual memorial to those who were lost on that fateful date, and are turned on at sunset each Sept. 11 and off at dawn Sept. 12. In 2009, Tri-State Biodiesel began supplying the generators that run the tribute lights with a 50 percent blend of biodiesel. This year, however, the generator supplier, Cat Entertainment Services, agreed to run the lights on B99.9 supplied by Tri-State Biodiesel.

This year marks the fourth year for Tri-State Biodiesel’s Bioheat program that seeks to convert B20 Bioheat users in the New York City area to B99. For B20—and No. 2—users who want to make the switch, Tri-State Biodiesel offers free servicing, which includes changing filters and adjusting the air mixture; since there’s a lack of carbon and hence a lack of color in the B99 flame, the infrared eye can have difficulty with detection. Tri-State Biodiesel works with its customers to optimize their systems for use with B99 home heating oil. The company also includes equipment guarantees for the pumps and seals. “In our fourth year, we’ve not had to change one single pump,” Duckworth said. “We’ve got a 99 percent customer satisfaction rate.”

NYC Clean Heat is a program to convert the 10,000 buildings in the city that use heavy No. 6 (and No. 4) oil to cleaner fuels, such as lighter No. 2 oils and biodiesel. Duckworth said instead of building owners paying $70,000 to $500,000 to convert to natural gas from No. 6, they can pay $15,000 to upgrade the oilheat systems to use lighter oils, which would allow use of biodiesel as well. “They can get 30 percent greater efficiency and be in compliance.”

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