Houston fueling station prepares for B100, B50 dispensing

By Ron Kotrba | January 14, 2015

Construction is nearly complete at Root Fuel’s revamped Wallisville Road retail fueling location where Houston area truckers and diesel drivers will soon be able to fill up on B100 and B50. CEO Justin Heller told Biodiesel Magazine that while the location is currently selling B20, B50 is expected to go on sale next month. By March, B100 will be sold at the pump.

The Wallisville site has biodiesel in tank ready for sale, and it has the capability to sell B50 and B100 now as they are integrated into Root Fuel’s two low-flow pumps, “but we are holding off until we feel comfortable that we have everything in place to properly educate our customers,” he added. “This includes on-site labeling and information placards, our fuel policy, website and more. Part of what we are trying to do is help people understand that biodiesel is diesel fuel—that it is not ethanol, you don’t have to change your engine, you can switch back and forth any time. We are going to brand it as a performance fuel, a premium diesel.”

Root Fuel has two unmanned fueling stations in Houston that were initially leased in December 2013, after which the company almost immediately began offering B20, according to Heller. In August, he closed on a Small Business Administration loan that allowed him to purchase the Wallisville station while Root Fuel’s other location on Wayside Drive continues to be leased.

“At the Wallisville site, we only had five out of 13 lanes working, all ultra-high flow diesel pumps,” three of which were masters and two satellite dispensers for dual-side fueling, Heller said. The new pumps began arriving in December. On Dec. 12, the station reopened with four lanes selling regular unleaded, two selling B20 through low-flow dispensers, and five selling B20 through ultra-high flow pumps, two of which are satellites. The ultra-high flow pumps dispense 30 to 36 gallons per minute; if dual-fueling with the master and satellite, the flow rate is 60 to 72 gallons per minute.

One pump (two lanes) sells unleaded gasoline and will dispense B100 when it goes on sale. The other pump (also two lanes) is a blender pump that sells unleaded and B20, and soon, when the higher biodiesel blends go retail, that blender pump will be ready to dispense B100 along with B50 from blending B20 and B100.

As of Jan. 9, all dispensers are in and operational, bringing the total to seven ultra-high flow lanes (four master and three satellite). All dispensers at Root Fuel’s Wallisville station are manufactured by Wayne Fueling Systems. The ultra-high flow dispensers are HS4 models and the low-flow pumps are Ovation2.

“One lane has a DEF [diesel exhaust fluid] dispenser as well, which is integrated into the payment system,” Heller said, “so you only have to swipe your card once.” The station has a 2,200-gallon aboveground DEF tank. “We removed one of the original dispenser entirely, and are tentatively planning on putting compressed natural gas (CNG) in its place,” Heller said.

Root Fuel has also upgraded its payment system to an OPW C/OPT fuel control system that accepts a number of fleet cards such as Fuelman, Fleetcore, Voyager, Wright Express and Pac Pride. It also accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. Heller said he is working on adding Comdata as well. “The best part about the C/OPT is that we can create our own magnetic stripe cards that will allow us to sign up our own customers and bill them direct, so we don't have to pay the transaction fees,” he says. “This opens up the ability to build brand loyalty and to take the brand into the digital world.” He admits, however, that there’s still a lot to do to get there.

The Wallisville site also features new induction canopy lighting, which Heller said is bright but not overwhelming and reduces electricity consumption by 75 percent.

Both of Root Fuel’s stations are at the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel, one of the largest petrochemical complexes in the world. The newly revamped Root Fuel station is located at 9505 Wallisville Road, Houston, Texas, 77013. The company’s other, leased location is at 5715 S. Wayside Drive, Houston, Texas, 77087.  

 

 
 
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