Biodiesel Conference Blog

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Next Gen Scientists Share Biodiesel Research

Students who are part of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel had the opportunity to share their research during the recent National Biodiesel Conference and Expo. The students all have one thing in common – their passion for the biodiesel industry.

nbb-16-thomas-kwanI spoke with several of these budding biodiesel leaders during the poster session. Thomas Kwan is a PhD candidate at Yale and is part of the Center for Green Chemistry & Green Engineering. While doing his undergraduate he looked at emissions from diesel fuel, particularly locomotives. He then leveraged this interest into looking not at the tailpipe, but the fuels themselves for emission reductions.

Thomas’s research is framed around an integrated biorefinery with algae as the foundation. In other words, the “plant” accepts some biomass and then produces biodiesel and other biobased products. Enabling technologies for the idea of an integrated biorefinery. Used micro algae that has high content for biodiesel lipids as well as other compounds, in particular, astaxanthin, a powerful antioxident. IN the case of algae, the bioproduct is not yet approved for human consumption but Thomas hopes this research will help change that. Ultimately, they looked at how to tweak the biorefinery to get more lipids for biodiesel, or to get more astaxanthin. To learn more, listen to my interview with Thomas Kwan here: Interview with Thomas Kwan

nbb16-eric-william

Clemson University Biosystems Engineering students Eric Monroe and William O’Connell, present their biodiesel research during the poster session.

William O’Connell is a senior at Clemson University in Biosystems Engineering. He became interested in biodiesel while doing his undergraduate research, and then attended the conference last year. He’s back and this year presented his research during the poster session.

The focus on the project is to reanalyze the school’s current process of collecting used cooking oil and converting it to biodiesel. William said they are looking to see if there is a more efficient way to produce the biofuel. What they have discovered is using interesterification is more efficient. To learn more, listen to my interview with William O’Connell here: Interview with William O'Connell

nbb-16-james-davisJames Davis is in his fourth year of his PhD at the University of Nevada, Reno. He has a keen interest in fatty acids of seed crops such as canola or camelina sativa. He explained that his research is focused on altering the lipid profile of camelina sativa.

The idea is to apply a cutting edge gene editing technology to knock out certain genes. Essentially, his goal is two-fold. One, to alter the fingerprint of the lipid profile and they are also trying to eradicate erucic acid, a semi-negative toxic lipid that is bad for livestock making camelina seed meal restricted for use in feeding livestock. James notes that if they can get rid of some of the negative profile, they can create a more high-value byproduct. To learn more, listen to my interview with James Davis here: Interview with James Davis

2016 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Young Women Leading the Way in Biodiesel Research

There is a growing number of women who are forging paths and leading the way in innovative biodiesel research. Two such women are Megan Hums, a student at Drexel University, and Jennifer Greenstein, a student at North Carolina State University. They are both members of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program and they both presented posters during this year’s National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. I spent some time with both young women to learn about how they became interested in biodiesel/bioenergy. These are some amazing young ladies!

nbb16-greensteinJennifer Greenstein used to work in bioethanol and she says biofuels is something she can really get behind. As such, she headed to North Carolina State University to pursue her PhD and while there began working for Piedmont Biofuels, a biodiesel producer. (She will be graduating soon. Contact her here.)

For her research, Jennifer is working on developing lipases, which are a catalyst to make biodiesel. She is looking at an improved production system for making the lipases and immobilizing them. So in other words, she is looking for a way to express the lipases on the surface of the bacteria rather than intracellularly. The cool thing is that the process she is looking at will use an enzyme to replace chemicals in the production process. To learn more about her research, listen to my interview with Jennifer Greenstein here: Interview with Jennifer Greenstein

nbb16-megan-humsAfter Megan graduated with her undergrad degree she said she felt she still had more to learn. With her interest in sustainability and biofuels she found a project at Drexel University (She’s in her fifth year of her PhD program and graduating soon. Contact her here.) that interested her using waste greases for biodiesel production. She has been involved with this project and it was the focus on her poster.

Megan is looking at the environmental impact of using low quality greases, or kitchen waste greases, which have gone down the sink, to produce biodiesel using nonconventional biodiesel conversion. She then takes the whole process and applies environmental impacts to it through a lifecycle assessment and tries to figure out the footprint of production. To learn more, listen to my interview with Megan Hums here: Interview with Megan Hums

2016 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Next Gen Scientists Discuss Value of #NBB16

James Anderson discusses his research with an attendee during #NBB16.

James Anderson discusses his research with an attendee during #NBB16.

It’s never too early to encourage the next generation of biodiesel and bioproduct scientists and this is just what NBB is doing through its Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program. Several members of the group attended this year’s conference and presented posters, attended educational sessions and networked, networked, networked.

James Anderson, at the University of Southern Illinois, serves as co-chair for the group and he presented his research looking at fatty acid profiles and studying divergent plants. His goal was to identify not the fastest growing soybean plant or the plant with the best resistance, but the plant with the best profile. The idea is that they would identify soybeans that would be even better suited to biodiesel production. He and his team checked their results against some USDA studies and found positive results.

James is finishing up his project soon and will be awarded his PhD and will soon be looking for a job…hint, hint. He can be reached via email to discuss both his research and future opportunities.

Listen to my interview with James Anderson here: Interview with Co-Chair James Anderson

Jesse Mayer and James Anderson, Co-Chairs of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel.

Jesse Mayer and James Anderson, Co-Chairs of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel.

Jesse Mayer, from the University of Nevada, Reno, is also a co-chair of Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel. Originally planning on going to medical, he switched gears when the only lab he could find work in was a plant lab. Well, he got hooked. He said he loves the field and the sustainability aspect of it.

He became involved in the group two years ago through his professor. He encourages everyone to join. “It’s really great opportunity to understand all the different aspects of biofuels. Like the students here you’ve got a lot of different fields…. So finding a student organization like NBB, joining them, and getting an idea of what those other aspects are, talking to people in the industry, really helps diversify you as a student and really helps going on to grad school or into the workforce.”

Jesse is also graduating soon and if the networking I saw him doing at the conference is any indication, he won’t be on the market long. You can reach him here.

Listen to my interview with Jesse Mayer here: Interview with Co-Chair Jesse Mayer

2016 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Addressing #Biodiesel Distribution Challenges

Paul Nazzaro is no stranger to the biodiesel industry and has been a huge champion for the advanced biofuel in the Northeast for nearly two decades. During the 2016 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Tampa, Florida, Nazzaro participated in several panel discussions focused on how to get more biodiesel into the Northeast as each year, more legislation is passed to curb emissions and ultimately promote renewable energy. BioHeat in particular is really gaining ground.

Paul NazzaroYet distribution challenges need be overcome in order to get more biodiesel products into the northeast. Nazzaro said in an interview after the panel discussion that compared to other areas of the country, there are very few terminals where the fuel can be blended and distributed. When asked who is responsible for paying to get more terminals, such as the biodiesel industry or the petroleum industry, Nazzaro said ultimately the cost will fall on consumers. But if they keep asking for biodiesel products, he stressed, suppliers will listen and down the road, biodiesel is not only more environmentally friendly, it will cost consumers less.

Nazzaro is working with a team to help overcome distribution and supply challenges to help ensure that the biodiesel industry can deliver what they promise: high value, advanced, renewable bioproducts.

To learn more listen to my interview with Paul Nazzaro: Interview with Paul Nazzaro

2016 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Beth Calabotta Receives Biodiesel Impact Award

nbb-16-calabottaBeth Calabotta, former Monsanto Director for Bioenergy and currently serving on the National Biodiesel Foundation, was honored during the 2016 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo with the “Eye on Biodiesel” Impact award for her tireless dedication to the advancement of biodiesel.

Beth’s experience in the field of agricultural yield technology and the markets that drive demand for protein give her a rare and valuable knowledge base that she has put 100 percent into her work to advance biodiesel. She has contributed greatly to the sustainability efforts at NBB and projects to analyze the real world indirect effects of biodiesel production. Beth’s knowledge and leadership was instrumental in improving the science used to quantify biodiesel’s growth potential and greenhouse gas benefits. She has also worked aggressively to pursue funding from industry as well as broadening the feedstock organizations that contribute to and benefit from the technical and education programs funded by the National Biodiesel Foundation.

Listen to her remarks on winning the Impact Award here: Beth Calabotta, Biodiesel Impact Award winner

2016 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Biodiesel Gains Ground in Auto Industry

NBB's Biodiesel ChevyFrom coast-to-coast B20 is now formally supported by nearly all vehicle manufacturers. Today more than 78 percent of the diesel vehicles coming off production lines are approved for use with B20, as noted during the annual Biodiesel Showcase that took place yesterday during the 13th Annual National Biodiesel Conference.

Some big examples of support include General Motors (GM), Hino and PACCAR along with Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Among U.S. heavy-duty truck segments, which account for more than 87 percent of actual diesel fuel usage, every major engine manufacturer supports B20 in their new engines except for Daimler’s Detroit Diesel, which remains at B5.

Many users are realizing that B20 biodiesel blends offer them a cost-effective and seamless option to help meet increasingly aggressive greenhouse gas and carbon reduction goals. Energy continues to warrant focus on the worldwide stage as a primary way to reduce the effects of climate change and during this week’s conference, biodiesel role in this efforts were highlighted. The Biodiesel Showcase was one of the best visuals of the benefits of biodiesel and a demonstration that consumer choices for biodiesel play a strong role in influencing vehicle manufacturers to continue to increase their support of biodiesel.

Following are three brief videos about vehicles that are approved for the use of B20. You can get the scoop on PACCAR’s “bright yellow truck” by clicking here.

2016 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Dr. Aydin Sunol, University of Florida

Adrian Ratza, Hino

Mike Sico, Ferman Chevrolet

PACCAR Honored with Eye on Biodiesel “Initiative Award”

PACCAR was honored with this year’s Eye on Biodiesel “Initiative Award” for their commitment to #biodiesel blends. Giving remarks during the Biodiesel Showcase, Jason Johnson, director of aftermarket for PACCAR, announced that the new PACCAR MX-11 engine and all model years of its MX-13 engine, both legacy models and new equipment, are now approved for use with B20. More than 100,000 trucks, both new and old, join the biodiesel ranks and each year and these vehicles drive more than 12 billion miles. With this announcement, Johnson said there are now nearly 1 million Peterbilt and Kenworth medium and heavy duty trucks approved for use up to #B20 biodiesel blends.

PACCARAddressing an engaged and excited crowd, NBB CEO Joe Jobe said, “PACCAR’s support underlines that biodiesel is the single best carbon mitigation strategy out there; with widespread support across all diesel applications, we are perfectly positioned to deliver even more cleaner burning biodiesel into the marketplace. The U.S. biodiesel industry has invested over twenty years of research and development activity to provide the highest quality biodiesel fuel for the marketplace, and today we recognize PACCAR for taking the initiative to endorse B20 biodiesel blends for use in your equipment.”

Landon Sproull, PACCAR assistant vice president, said in a statement following the award announcement, “PACCAR is pleased to earn the Eye on Biodiesel Award while we are expanding PACCAR’s engine line of B20 compatible engines. Our new B20 compatible PACCAR MX-11 engine is available in Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks beginning in January 2016, joining our highly successful MX-13 engine. PACCAR designs and builds the most durable, fuel-efficient and highest quality heavy-duty truck engines in the world, and PACCAR engines perform well using a variety of fuel sources.”

“Increasing our support level from B5 to B20 biodiesel blends provides more choice and value to PACCAR’s customers,” Sproull added.

To learn more about PACCAR’s commitment to biodiesel and to learn more about the “bright yellow truck,” watch my video with Jason Johnson.

Biodiesel’s Role in Food AND Fuel

Don Scott NBBThe myth that biofuels is a choice between food versus fuel is still perpetuated regardless of scientific data showing otherwise. The true fact about biofuels, including biodiesel, is that they produce food AND fuel. #Biodiesel’s role in both providing food and fuel, as well as in reducing carbon, were the topics of a presentation by Don Scott with the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) during the 2016 National Biodiesel Conference in Tampa, Florida.

Scott began his presentation by stating three things:

  • Biodiesel complements the fuel supply.
  • Solar energy is abundant and efficient.
  • Mitigating climate change does not cost. It pays.

Biodiesel, said Scott, produces protein as a byproduct, an essential source of nutrition for humans. However, protein is expensive. But because biodiesel production only uses the oils (fat), protein is produced at a lower cost than average protein sources on the market.

Based on this fact, Scott had a motto, per se, during his presentation: “When we grow protein to feed the world, we naturally get more carbs, fat, and other fiber byproducts than we can eat.” Therefore, he said, it makes sense to use this excess fat to displace petroleum, and biodiesel is the best example of nature’s design for food and fuel. And an added bonus, while today biodiesel represents about 20 percent of the renewable fuel market, it provides 40 percent of the carbon reductions as a result of using these renewable fuels.

Learn more about biodiesel’s benefits by Listening to my interview with Don Scott: Don Scott Talks Food, Fuel and Carbon

2016 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album