Biodiesel Conference Blog

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Clean Diesel Technology: A Winning Combination

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and one could write a book about the organization’s history and it’s incredible successes. But since I don’t have the space, I’ll let NBB CEO Joe Jobe do that on behalf of the industry. He opened this year’s conference with a look back on the last 20 years. Speaking of 20 years….

nbc-13-steve-howell“It’s amazing how far we’ve come in 20 years,” said Steve Howell, NBB’s Technical Director during the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase. “Back when we started there was not one engine company that supported biodiesel. It just goes to show you that a lot of hard work, a lot of effort and a lot of cooperation between the engine companies, the petroleum companies, and the biodiesel companies got us to this place today.”

Howell said if it weren’t for the more than $50 million in investment in diesel engine technology, we would not be here today. And where is here? This year marks the year that more passenger vehicles, light duty trucks, school buses, equipment and medium to heavy duty trucks are being offered than ever before and many of them can use up to B20 biodiesel blends.

In order for the engine manufacturers to commit to developing and selling clean diesel vehicles that can run on biodiesel, they had to know it worked. And, said Howell, it works.

Learn more about the evolution of clean diesel technology by listening to Howell’s remarks: Clean Diesel Technology: A Winning Combination

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

2013: Most Exciting Year for Clean Diesel Vehicles Ever

A bumper crop of new clean diesel vehicles are beginning to arrive in dealerships across the country and with them a bushel more of fuel choices for consumers is coming to market. Much of this crop can run on biodiesel fuel blends ranging from B5 to B20.

nbc-13-diesel-technology-forumThe wide-range of diesel technology was showcased during the 2013 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in Las Vegas and a major event during the expo was the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase. On hand to showcase their biodiesel friendly trucks, cars, buses and equipment were John Deere, Hino, Volkswagen, Ford, and Clark County School District.

Ezra Finkin, Director of Policy and External Relations for the Diesel Technology Forum, described the momentum behind the clean diesel vehicle movement in the U.S. by saying, “2013 is going to be one of the most exciting years for clean diesel vehicles in U.S. history. We’ve seen the U.S. market appetite for diesel vehicles shift from 11 passenger diesel models last year to more than 22 diesel models available in 2013. Industry experts predict there will be more than 54 diesel vehicles available in the U.S. by 2017, with overall diesel vehicle market share approaching 10 percent by 2020.”

So what was the big takeaway at the conclusion of the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase Event? That today’s new technology diesel engines are truly a winning combination.

Learn more clean diesel technology from Ezra Finkin: 2013: Most Exciting Year for Clean Diesel Vehicles Ever

Check out the array of clean diesel technologies in the 2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album.

Slug Bug’s New Color is Green

nbc-13-volkswagon-scottOne of the reasons more American drivers don’t travel the roads using biodiesel is because, well, there are not many options for passenger cars that run on diesel. But this is changing and one of the car companies leading the way is Volkswagen. It looks like the “Slug Bug’s” new color is green.

Scott Monet, with Findlay North Volkswagen, was on hand to showcase two of the seven light duty diesel vehicles heading to American shores that can run on biodiesel. The company offers the widest range of passenger diesel cars in the U.S. (there are diesel choices in Europe for cars like there are gasoline choices in the U.S. for cars). In 2013 VW is offering six TDI clean diesel models: VW Jetta TDI, Jetta SportWagen TDI, Passat TDI, Beetle TDI, Beetle Convertible TDI, and the VW Touareg TDI.

Volkswagen has also unveiled a promising new VW CrossBlue mid-size SUV concept vehicle that features a highly innovative plug-in hybrid powertrain mated with a TDI clean diesel engine. All Volkswagen TDI models are currently approved for use with B5 biodiesel blends.

I’ve laid eyes on the Jetta TDI and it’s a beautiful car. If you haven’t already, check out VW’s new “bio”diesel lineup.

Learn more about VW’s commitment to biodiesel in Monet’s presentation: Slug Bug's New Color is Green

You can see photos of several VW TDI’s in the 2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album.

Next Generation Scientists Display Innovative Research

nbb-13-andersonDuring the National Biodiesel Board Conference & Expo several Next Generation Scientists displayed their biodiesel research through “posters”. These budding scientists are smart, talented, creative and innovative. Did I mention they are innovative? These college students are conducting research that has never been done before and as it moves forward, should help improve biodiesel production. A bit of a plug- if you find the research interesting and of value to the industry, consider supporting the students’ continued work.

Here are several interviews with the Next Generation Scientists that discuss their research, why they became involved in the program, and advice for students who are still looking for their niche.

James Anderson, Southern Illinois University: James Anderson

Qingshi Tu, University of Cincinnati: Qingshi Tu

Nina De la Rosa, Florida International University: Nina De la Rosa

Namrata Dangol, University of Idaho: Namrata Dangol

Not sure you want to get involved in Next Generation Scientists? Then be sure to listen to Deval’s interview. Click here to learn more about becoming involved in Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel.

nbb-13-pandyaDeval Pandya, University of Texas at Arlington: Deval Pandya

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Clemson’s Biodiesel Guru’s

nbb-13-clemsonIf you have a passion for biosystems engineering and biodiesel then you should consider going to college at Clemson University (or transferring there for your advanced degree). Why? Because three of the coolest biodiesel researchers and innovators are currently working together to advance biodiesel. The biodiesel gurus are all members of Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel (Seriously students, why haven’t you joined already?): Karthik Gopalakrish, David Thorton and Charles Griffin. These are three smart cookies.

In a nutshell, the team is researching carbon substrates and algae production to be used for biodiesel or other co-products such as animal feed, biochemicals, bioplastics, etc. In other words, they are looking at increasing lipids (more lipids mean more oil) using waste products from different biofuels industries. This poster looked at using ethanol waste, called xylol and biodiesel waste called glycerol. They have discovered some results that no other researchers have found and boy are they promising.

I was quite impressed with their research and offered to give them a funding plug: to support their research, visit their blog.

You’ll be impressed to when you listen to my interview with Karthik, Charles and Charles about their biodiesel research: Clemson's Biodiesel Guru's

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Students Research Biodiesel from Lab to Dragster

nbb-13-mccurdyWhat do Alex McCurdy, Michael Morgan and Robert Willis have in common? They all work in the same lab at Utah State University (USU) and are working on three integrated pieces of biodiesel research. They are members of Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel, and work in Lance Seefeldt’s lab, a professor in USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and a principal faculty mentor on the interdisciplinary project. nbb-13-willis1

Here are some fun facts: McCurdy, Morgan and Willis were all on the team that set a land speed record with a race car design all their own and it ran on 100 percent biodiesel developed by the team. The team is also perfecting the production of fuel using yeast and bacterial platforms and also developing fuel from cheese
waste, carbon dioxide and the sun using microalgae platforms. nbb-13-morgan

Alex noted that the research team has recently succeeded in producing quantities of fuels from all of these sources that have superior properties in test engines, comparing favorably to biodiesel produced from soybeans. This research was featured by the three students during the poster session at the National Biodiesel Board Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

Listen to an overview of Alex’s research: Biodiesel from Microalgae, Yeast & Bacteria

Listen to an overview of Robert’s research: Liquid, Liquid Lipid Extraction

Listen to an overview of Michael’s research (he is the dragster driver): Dragster Performs on Biodiesel

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Children Breathing Easier with Biodiesel Bus

You wouldn’t think so, but Nevada is one of the true pioneering states for biodiesel. Many years ago, before many knew about the benefits of biodiesel, Las Vegas began a citywide campaign to lower air emissions. The solution: nbc-13-jon-howardbiodiesel. One of the earliest adopters of biodiesel in the country was the Clark County School District who began using biodiesel in their school buses. One major benefit: the children who ride the buses are breathing easier because using biodiesel blends reduces harmful tailpipe emissions.

Jon Howard, with the Clark County School District, told the tale of the adoption of biodiesel and with its success, they are now using B20 in their buses. During the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase, held as part of the 10th Annual National Biodiesel Board Conference, he presented their new Thomas Built hybrid diesel school bus powered by B20.

Too bad we were inside because I would have very much liked to take a ride in this bus. Instead I had to settle for hearing the great biodiesel story as part of the event and this was still pretty cool.

Learn more about Clark County School District’s use of biodiesel by listening to Howard presentation: B20 Biodiesel Buses

You can see great photos of the B20 bus in the 2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album.

I’ll Take a Hino Truck Please

I’ll take a Hino truck please. During the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase held during the 10th Annual National Biodiesel Board Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, Glenn Ellis, Hino Trucks’ Vice President of Marketing and Dealer Operations nbc-13-glenn-ellispresented a game changer: the 2013 Hino 195h hybrid truck. And its already making its mark in the medium duty truck segment. The truck runs on a hybrid system of electricity and B20.

Hino Truck is the fastest growing truck manufacturer in the U.S. and hearing Ellis discuss the company’s vehicle platform that includes biodiesel capability to run on higher biodiesel blends such as B20, it is no wonder why. And like most customers who try out biodiesel, Hino’s customers are so happy with their biodiesel products they are asking for more.

This cool 2013 Hino 195h hybrid truck was on display during the showcase and also during open trade show hours and it drew quite a crowd. This is truly a unique truck and for all the right reasons.

Learn more about Hino’s Biodiesel Platform by listening to Ellis’ presentation: Game Changer: Biodiesel Hybrid Truck

You can see photos of the biodiesel hybrid truck on the 2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Using Biodiesel

nbc-13-borgmanNothing runs like a Deere. Especially a Deere running with biodiesel. John Deere demonstrated its vast array of diesel equipment able to run on biodiesel during the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase. Why Biodiesel? Well, in addition to security benefits for Americans, it also improves lubricity, reduces sulfur emissions, and reduces aromatics. Biodiesel has a high cetane content for faster ignition. These are just a few of the reasons that Don Borgman cites when telling attendees during the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase John Deere approves the use of biodiesel in all its equipment. Up to B20 blends can be used.

Here is something neat that John Deere does that I learned during Borgman’s presentation. When new equipment is ready to leave the factory, it’s filled with a biodiesel blend. Deere has coined this the “biodiesel factory fill.” Now if that doesn’t prove biodiesel is safe and beneficial to run in their equipment, nothing will.

Also during his presentation, Borgman gave an update on what’s on the horizon for new and future John Deere equipment. And they gave away a Gator. I bet the winner is having fun with his new toy. We’ll have to ask the winner during next year’s conference….

Learn more about John Deere’s Biodiesel Platform by listening to Don Borgman’s presentation: Nothing Runs Like a Deere Using Biodiesel

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Ford Committed to Biodiesel

nbc-13-gerry-kossFord Motor Company showed off its new 2013 Ford F-250 Super Duty truck that can use up to B20 during the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase in Las Vegas. Part of the 10th Annual National Biodiesel Board Conference, the showcase featured consumer and fleet vehicles that can be powered by biodiesel.

During the event, Gerald Koss, Fleet Marketing and Product Strategy Manager unveiled the F-250, which has been America’s best selling truck for 35 straight years. He also announced that Ford’s new 2014 Ford Transit full size van will also be approved for use with B20 blends and will feature a B20 badge to promote the feature. This, he said, is part of the company’s commitment to providing reliable, alternative fueled vehicles for their customers.

Voss also noted that customers who have purchased trucks and have run biodiesel blends, including B20 blends, are giving rave reviews.

Learn more about Ford’s biodiesel platform by listening to Koss’s presentation: Ford Committed to Biodiesel

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Soybean Farmers See Fruits of Labor in BioVegas

nbb-13-brandtEver wondered about the fruits of your labor? Soybean growers from around the country had the opportunity to see all the different products made from soybeans during the Farmers Las Vegas Tour (or should we say BioVegas tour) where they visited the Rebel Oil Fuel Terminal, the Biodiesel of Las Vegas plant, and the SYNLawn showroom, where where soybeans are used in the backings of carpets and artificial grass. The tour took place during the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) Conference & Expo in Vegas.

While en route to the locations, I visited with two soybean farmers. Dan Brandt is with the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA). He and his wife farm 650 acres, half soybeans and half corn near Yoda, MN. As co-chair of domestic marketing for MSGA he works closely with the National Biodiesel Board and the United Soybean Board to enhance and develop programs to increase the use of biodiesel and other products made from soybeans.

Listen to my interview with Dan here: Working Together to Enhance Biodiesel

nbb-13-bainbridgeI also spoke with Lewis Bainbridge who is with the United Soybean Board and is a soybean grower near Ethan, South Dakota. As a farmer and livestock producer he has been involved and supportive of biodiesel for a very long time and the state of South Dakota was actually one of the first states to get the NBB going. He said he enjoyed the clip that highlighted the past 20 years, and in the early 90s there was a kickoff event in South Dakota and Bainbridge was there. This he said, was how he got started using biodiesel.

You can hear more about the collaborative efforts of the soybean groups in my interview with Lewis: Soybean Groups Collaborate for Success

Check out the pictures of the tour in the 2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Vilsack Awarded with National Energy Leadership Award

nbb-13-vilsackjobeThe National Biodiesel Board praised Sec. Vilsack as one of the strongest advocates for renewable fuels in the nation, and presented him with the National Energy Leadership Award during the final day of the 10th Annual National Biodiesel Board Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

“I’ve witnessed the beginning of a rural renaissance that is remarkable, and you, sir, have presided over it,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. “You went to bat for us in the successful expansion of the RFS, and for an issue like ours to go all the way to the top is extraordinary. We can’t thank you enough for your leadership.”

Rather than a typical award, this one was embossed on a glass plate, apropos for the leader of American agriculture.

“You have the power to make us more energy secure, and still create enough food and fiber for the world. That’s an amazing opportunity worth fighting for,” said Vilsack. “You also have the ability to respond as a generation to climate change. You’ve got to keep up the fight because the stakes are extraordinarily high.”

Listen to Jobe’s and Vilsack’s remarks here: National Energy Leadership Award

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Vilsack Addresses Standing Room Only Crowd

United States Agriculture Department (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed a standing room only crowd during the final day of the 10th Annual National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. Beginning his second term as part of the Obama Administration, prior to taking this position he was the Governor of Iowa. Vilsack has been a leader in the support of biofuels since taking office as Governor and has continued in his current role.

nbb-13-vilsackVilsack said that the biodiesel industry is helping the country become secure through its innovation and products and also helping to create a new biobased economy.

There is a huge fight against the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Vilsack noted that there are some who say it needs to be changed because it’s not reliable and not effective, when in fact it’s exactly the opposite. “This standard is working. It’s doing what’s its supposed to do. It’s helping to create an industry that supports jobs, improves incomes, reduces alliance on foreign oil, and gives consumers choice. It’s working,” said Vilsack.

He also noted that the reason why the biodiesel industry is being challenged is because they are winning. “Trust me,” he said. “If you were losing no one would be paying attention to you. But there is more work to do to meet these challenges.”

Vislack ended his remarks by giving the industry a couple of ideas. One of the most critical, he said, is that it is important to engage people at the state and local level to explain to them the benefits of this industry.

You have the capacity to reignite a new century of innovation and to help redefine and revitalize the American economy, said Vilsack. “And this is worth fighting for.”

Listen to Secretary Vilsack’s remarks here: Industry Engagement Critical

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

NY Oil Heating Association Wins Partnership Award

The biodiesel industry has many to thank for efforts that have lead to greater adoption and support of biodiesel. One area that has been an early adopter is the Big Apple – New York City. Under the leadership of John D. Maniscalco, the CEO of the New York Oil Heating Association, New York City recently passed landmark registration: beginning in October 2012, all heating nbb-13-maniscalcooil sold in the city must contain at least two percent biodiesel.

This cleaner burning, domestic fuel blend known as Bioheat® will replace up to 20 million gallons of petroleum a year. The efforts of Maniscalco and the support provided by the New York Oil Heating Association made this unprecedented legislation possible.

It is these efforts, along with others, that led to his Eye on Biodiesel award from the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), during the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo this week in Las Vegas.

With the help of NBB and its dedicated Bioheat program, there is currently a Bioheat consumer education campaign running in NY. Maniscalco hopes this will increase awareness and support of biodiesel. His next two goals for this year are to increase the Bioheat legislation to the entire state of New York, as well as increase the Bioheat biodiesel blend of 2 percent to at least 5 percent.

Listen to John’s presentation here: Industry Engagement Critical

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Industry Engagement Critical

This past year was a roller coaster but with some big achievements, said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board during her presentation at the 10th Annual Conference in Las Vegas. One big achievement: the nbb-13-steckelincrease of volume of biodiesel gallons as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This, noted Steckel, reflects the ongoing growth of the biodiesel industry.

One of the biggest ongoing challenges is the efforts of the petroleum industry to end the RFS. Steckel said NBB is spending a lot of resources fighting these court cases, but she was proud to say they have been successful in winning the last three court cases. But the fight is not over.

She also addressed how devastating the RIN crisis has been for the industry and said NBB is working hard with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and petroleum industry to find a constructive solution. The industry will be seeing new regulations on this soon and NBB will continue to work with its membership to make sure the industry gets the best regulation possible.

Steckle encouraged the attendees to continue to be engaged as 2013 will be another pivotal year for the industry.

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Listen to Anne Steckel’s full remarks here: Industry Engagement Critical

Senator Dorgan: We Must Be Relentless

Former North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan is truly an advocate for biofuels. While in office, Dorgan authored the first renewable fuel bill, requiring 8 billion gallons of biofuels. When President Bush took office, he asked Dorgan to help write nbb-13-byronthe bill that today is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Dorgan gave an inspiring and funny presentation during the National Biodiesel Board’s 10th Annual Conference in Las Vegas. While he may have regaled the large crowd with funny stories, what he does not find funny is the attack on biodiesel and the RFS. He has dedicated himself to continuing the fight. He said, “It is very important we be relentless with this success story.”

After retiring from the Senate, Dorgan joined the Bipartisan Policy Center, where he along with several others, are continuing to focus on the role of renewable energy and that includes increasing the use of biodiesel.

Dorgan left the audience with three “lessons”. First, bad news travels half way around the world before good news gets its shoes on; the success of a rain dance depends a lot on the timing; and when you hit someone on the head with a book and get a hollow sound, it doesn’t mean the book is empty. The lesson behind the quotes? We have facts on our side. Don’t give up and continue to fight the good fight.

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

We must be relentless

Reminiscing About Last 20 Years

Kenlon JohannesOn stage during the general session at this year’s conference was Kenlon Johannes, CEO, Kansas Soybean Commission. Kenlon reminisced about the start of the National Biodiesel Board and conference.

Kenlon says it has been an interesting 20 years and 10 years. He says there were only a few involved at the start with most of the action happening in Missouri. The first five years were the fast growth years when the industry really started to take off.

When it comes to looking back he says there are four phases to how the industry has developed. The first one was trying to figure things out, then convincing the industry itself that an organization was needed, then at the federal level work was done and markets developed and then in the last five years a very concise legislative, research and promotion program has been developed.

You can listen to my interview with Kenlon here: Interview with Kenlon Johannes

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Raise the Rally Cry

For the past two years, Gary Haer has held three jobs: Chair of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), Vice President of Sales and Marketing at the Renewable Energy Group (REG), the largest producer of biodiesel in the nbb-13-haerU.S. and soybean producer – he farms on his family farm in Northwest Missouri.

During his presentation during the second day of the 10th Annual NBB Conference Haer noted that it was hard for him to believe this industry was celebrating it’s 20th anniversary (as Joe Jobe said, the industry has reached its teenage years).

Haer described several parallels between the rollercoaster ride that America’s farmers face every season and the market uncertainty battled by the biodiesel industry. He also said that because very few people understand what it really takes to produce food, feed, fiber and fuel, “The biodiesel industry must be even louder in our rallying cries to showcase the diversity of our advanced biofuel.”

Listen to Haer’s full remarks here: Raise the Rally Cry

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Las Vegas – An Inspiration for Biodiesel Adoption

nbb-13-inspirationawardIf you are looking for a little inspiration for biodiesel, look no further than Las Vegas, or now the city I have renamed Las BioVegas. A community group of innovators, known as the Las Vegas Biodiesel User Group, became early adopters of the fuel blend and were awarded the Eye on Biodiesel: Inspiration award during the 10th Annual National Biodiesel Conference and Expo aptly held in BioVegas.

Gary H. Weinberg, Western Sierra Services; Ron Corbett, City of North Las Vegas; Frank Giordano, Clark County School District; James Morwood, Las Vegas Valley Water District; Dan Hyde, City of Las Vegas (retired) were all part of the crew.

Listen to the interview with Gary Weinberg here: Weinberg on Innovation

nbb-13-teallAs Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board rightly pointed out during the award ceremony, luckily for biodiesel, what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas. As Jobe explained, this group of biodiesel pioneers championed the alternative fuel against all odds in the 1990s to help it become the established fuel it is today. The Las Vegas Biodiesel User Group was among the first users of biodiesel in the nation. These fleets worked to overcome resistance, remove technical obstacles, and even successfully challenged large diesel equipment manufacturers to support biodiesel.

Listen to the interview with Frank Giordano here: Giordano on Biodiesel

“In the beginning, biodiesel had its struggles to gain support, like any new fuel,” said Ron Corbett, Clean Cities Coordinator for Las Vegas. “Those of us who were early champions are gratified to see biodiesel finally gaining the momentum it needs to become the fuel of choice.”

Listen to the interview with James Morwood here: Morwood on Leading the Pack

Listen to the interview with Russell Teall here: Teall on Developing Biodiesel Technology

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

More B For Me

More biodiesel please. If you can find more biodiesel it was definitely at the 10th Annual National Biodiesel Conference in Las Vegas. Ok, so even though you were’t exactly taking home barrels of biodiesel, you could win $1,000 in free biodiesel as part of the More B for Me campaign. I got the scoop from Alicia Clancy who is the Manager, Corporate Affairs for the Renewable Fuels Group (REG), the country’s largest More B For Mebiodiesel producer.

Clancy said the goal of the promotion is to increase awareness of biodiesel use in farming equipment – trackers, trucks, etc. While many use a B2 or B5 blend, Clancy said all farm equipment is approved for use up to B20. As part of the campaign, farmers (or consumers) are encouraged go to their local co-op or gas station and ask them to offer higher blends of biodiesel.

Here is how it works. Go to to register. You must be a farmer in Iowa (although everyone should ask for more biodiesel). REG is giving away 10 – $1,000 dollar certificates at the end of March, just in time for planting season.

Other sponsors of the program include the Iowa Soybean Association and the soybean checkoff, Iowa Biodiesel Board and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

Listen to my interview with Alicia here: More B For Me

2013 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album