Corn+Soybean Digest

The Biodiesel King

Grant Goodman doesn't grow soybeans, doesn't haul them, doesn't eat them and he doesn't process them. He burns them. In fact, almost a million bushels of them a year in the form of biodiesel.

As CEO of Rockland Materials, Goodman is the largest commercial user of biodiesel in the country.

He operates a rock aggregate business and a ready-mix company in Phoenix, AZ, moving 2 million tons of aggregate rock and 640,000 yards of concrete a year. He started his company four years ago with one diesel truck; now he has 120.

For an unbiased test, Goodman secretly switched five company trucks to run on biodiesel. After a week of no problems he switched five more. Week three: All 120 trucks were running on B100, 100% biodiesel.

Every business is cost-conscious, but Goodman's conscience cost him, and his business, $350,000. That's the price he paid in 2001 over and above his cost for diesel fuel. The premium paid for B100 adds an extra 20-60¢/gallon.

There's no subsidy and no tax credits. No reason to do it other than it's the right thing to do. Goodman's devotion to clean air underscores his devotion to his family — his wife and son both suffer from asthma.

“It would nauseate me if I were running all these trucks and I knew I could do something about our air quality and didn't,” Goodman says. “In trucking, we have a huge opportunity to impact the environment positively if we choose to do so.”

That positive action has created some positive reaction. “Mr. Goodman's commitment to biodiesel reinforces many of the reasons why it should be the fuel of choice for Americans,” says Bart Ruth, American Soybean Association president. “It reduces our dependence on foreign sources of oil and is sustainable, homegrown and a secure source of energy.

“The environmental benefits of the higher level blends, B20 and B100, are well-documented,” Ruth adds. “He is to be commended for his proactive role in expansion of the biodiesel industry.”

From an environmental standpoint, Goodman had his point proved the hard way on Aug. 29, 2001. A railcar carrying 28,000 gallons of biodiesel for Rockland Materials derailed. The derailment caused an uproar as the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and local emergency officials prepared to deal with a toxic chemical spill of diesel fuel.

When officials realized it was biodiesel, the spill was quickly cleaned up; basically being washed down the drain. Goodman lost a railcar of fuel but “it just finally confirmed everything we've been talking about,” he says. “Biofuel is biodegradable and nontoxic. It's less toxic than table salt.”

The cost difference is coming down, and Goodman believes he'll see better engine wear due to increased lubricity (see “Low-Sulfur Solution,” page 30, in our December issue).

Overall, he believes one man can make a difference. Anyone with questions about using B100 can call Goodman at 602-508-8089.

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