By Keith Reid
The NACS Show (held October 6-8) offers many things to many people. Every category “inside the box” is covered in abundant fashion, from educational sessions to trade show exhibitors. The same holds true for retail fueling and to some extent wholesale and commercial fueling. In fact, a fuel marketer that dismisses the show as being purely retail would be surprised at how many solutions cross over into the wholesale side of operations, particularly on the technology front.
Each year, the question always comes up, “did you see any trends at the show?” Innovative companies are always introducing new solutions, but they are not necessarily linked to some new trend. Every few years major trends pop up, often driven by regulation or some other major policy initiative. That was the case at the 2021 NACS Show, where several significant trends rose above the usual mix.
There was no shortage of charging and other EV-related solutions on the Show floor. At least 14 companies provided at least one solution in the category. Several of the more notable solution developers were Blink Charging, which offers a full range of deployment configurations and charging speeds; and FreeWire, which offers “ultrafast” charging with battery storage to help level out demand charge and other utility fees.
One particularly interesting solution fit in well with the advice given to retailers in multiple educational sessions: Be strategic in how you add charging within the footprint of your retail sites. The fuel and store price analytics company Kalibrate now provides retailers with an EV adopter demographics overlay for their business areas. This is linked to available charger locations and identifies consumer charging patterns to help retailers see areas where the need to add a charging station might be critical, or not.
The other trend that emerged was an increased focus on underground storage tank maintenance solutions with a laser focus on water removal. Companies such as Leighton O’Brien, Tanknology, Clean Fuels National and Crompco have traditionally provided these types of services. What was notable, however, was that some of the fueling infrastructure equipment providers showcased specific solutions designed to ensure water removal from he underground storage tanks.
Franklin Fueling showcased its Corrosion Control System, which proactively removes water from tanks with its Corrosion Control Water Separator. The system is driven by the EVO 600/6000 ATG to automate operation and monitor for the presence of corrosive environments.
Veeder-Root offered its HydrX Fuel Conditioning System, which provides continuous water removal within diesel underground storage tanks. It is designed to remove water from the lowest point in the tank, preventing water from stagnating on the tank bottom and breeding microbial contaminants. This trend is firmly in line with the research that has been coming out of the Fuels Institute’s Diesel Fuel Quality Council and can only be expected to expand.
For some background, significant corrosion was discovered 2007 in metal tank and sump equipment (pumps, drop tubes, sensor probes, etc.) after the conversion to ultra-low sulfur diesel. This launched a variety of inconclusive research studies and culminated in recent Fuels Institute research which potentially initiated or boosted this trend.
Two best-practice reports—Diesel Storage Tanks and Diesel and Fuel Loading and Delivery—have already been published, and the main report is nearing finalization. An overview of the research and recommendations were covered in the NACS educational session: Inspect, Detect, Correct & Maintain: How to Maximize Diesel Fuel Equipment Uptime. The panelists were Scott Boorse, director of technical programs and industry affairs, Petroleum Equipment Institute; Chip Hughes, manager, environmental, Pilot Travel Centers; Prentiss Searles, marketing issues manager, American Petroleum Institute; and moderator Jeff Hove, vice president, Fuels Institute.
The findings and recommendations center on getting the water out to prevent biological growth, even for gasoline to a lesser extent, as it is the foundation for the biological growth that is linked to the corrosion. As stated: “Water is the only unequivocally correlated variable associated with corrosion rates.” Retailers will need to regularly test, use biocides, clean tanks and find other solutions to minimize water in the fueling system and clean out contaminants. This is another trend that will transition to standard operations before long.
Keith Reid is editorial director of Fuels Market News and editor-in-chief of Fuels Market News Magazine. Contact him at email@example.com.
For more information about the Fuels Institute and access to free white papers and research reports, visit www.fuelsinstitute.org. Register now for FUELS2021, hosted by the Fuels Institute, Dec. 14-16 in Dallas, at the Westin Dallas Downtown. Early bird registration is now open. This year’s event will focus on the Path to Decarbonizing Transportation, bringing together stakeholders from across the energy landscape, from liquid fuels to EVs.