MAY/JUNE 2013 VOLUME 10 ISSUE 3
The Distillers Corn Oil Craze
The Algae Farmer
Utah’s Young Biodiesel Phenom
BY RON KOTRBA
BY MELANIE BERNDS
BY RON KOTRBA
Margins, supply and conversion considerations
A sit-down with St. Louis-based Danforth Center algae researcher Jim Umen
Advertiser Index 35 2013 Algae Biomass Summit 36 2013 National Advance Biofuels Conference and Expo 5 BBI Consulting Services 24 Biodiesel Industry Directory 2 Biodiesel Magazine 28 Crown Iron Works Company 29 Ecoengineers 25 INTL FCStone Inc. 33 Iowa Central Fuel Testing Lab 31 Lindquist & Vennum PLLP 9 Louis Dreyfus 17 Methes Energies 8 & 21 National Biodiesel Board 16 Oil-Dri Corporation of America 20 Wilks Enterprise, Inc.
Salt Lake City high school sophomore Zerina Ocanovic toils toward success
CONTRIBUTIONS 30 MARKET
The New World of Biodiesel Feedstocks Trends, availability and pricing
BY NATE BURK 32 QUALITY
German Biodiesel Quality: 2012 AGQM Survey Ninety-eight percent of Germany’s biodiesel is on-spec
BY JUERGEN FISCHER
DEPARTMENTS 4 Editor’s Note
BY RON KOTRBA 6 Legal Perspectives
The Importance of Feedstock Within California’s LCFS
BY GRAHAM NOYES 7 Talking Point
One Company’s Waste is Another Company’s Feedstock
BY DOUG SMITH 9 Biodiesel Events 10 FrontEnd
Biodiesel News & Trends
12 Inside NBB 16 Business Briefs Biodiesel Magazine: (USPS No. 023-975) May/June 2013, Vol. 10, Issue 3. Biodiesel Magazine is published bi-monthly by BBI International. Principal Office: 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Periodicals Postage Paid at Grand Forks, North Dakota and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Biodiesel Magazine/Subscriptions, 308 Second Ave. N., Suite 304, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58203.
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34 Marketplace MAY | JUNE 2013
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MAY | JUNE 2013
Where is the additional feedstock to meet growing biodiesel demand going to come from? All of us in the biodiesel business have heard this question, and it’s a legitimate one. With forecasts indicating that one of the largest soybean crop plantings in U.S. history may be underway right now, as Nate Burk, risk management consultant with INTL FCStone, suggests in his article on page 30, “The New World of Biodiesel Feedstocks,” short-term supply to satisfy greater biodiesel demand may indeed come from additional vegetable oil stocks. As crushes increase, however, and more protein meals become available for animal feed, keeping meal prices lower, livestock producers have encouragement to produce more head, increasing animal fat supplies, thereby increasing more available feedstock for biodiesel production. There is no one place from which the greater supplies of feedstock will come, but rather many. This is what’s so great about biodiesel. Camelina, which can be intercropped with food-based crops, has an established pathway under the renewable fuel standard now. Also, the success of distillers corn oil (DCO) as a growing biodiesel feedstock is evident. Its use by biodiesel producers nearly doubled in 2012 over 2011, and as more ethanol plants outfit to spin—almost a requirement to maintain profitability during tough times in the ethanol industry—expect that number to continue increasing. About 571 million pounds of DCO was used last year for biodiesel production, only about 22 percent of the available supply if all ethanol plants today were spinning at the industry average. In addition to the myriad of nonfood crops under development (e.g., algae, jatropha, etc.), wastes such as spent coffee grounds can play a big role in diversifying our energy mix. We first heard about the potential for used coffee grounds in 2008. Used grounds contain 11 to 20 percent oil, and experts suggest the potential for 340 MMgy of biodiesel globally from this waste. Check out my article on page 26, “Utah’s Young Biodiesel Phenom,” about high school sophomore Zerina Ocanovic who has won multiple awards and a major scholarship for her work in making biodiesel from oils she extracted from algae that she grew, and from used coffee grounds. It’s a positive story that exemplifies the youthful possibilities and ingenuity of this great industry.
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The Importance of Feedstock Within California’s LCFS BY GRAHAM NOYES
California’s Global Warning Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) established the state’s goal of reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The statute charged the California Air Resources
total GHG emissions. The following table illustrates the wide range of CI scores for biodiesel fuels produced from various feedstocks. To calculate the value of the LCFS credit that the biodiesel will generate, it is necessary to first determine the GHG reduction that the biodiesel provides as compared to the annual diesel fuel CI score that the regulated parties must achieve. For 2013, that required overall CI score is 93.76. Compared to this requirement, soy biodiesel delivers a modest reduction of approximately 10 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per mega joule of energy. By contrast, used cooking oil (UCO) provides closer to an 80
Board with developing and implementing regulations in multiple sectors to achieve that goal. In January 2007, then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued Executive Order S-0107 calling on CARB to determine whether a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) could be adopted under AB 32 to reduce the carbon intensity of California’s transportation fuels by at least 10 percent by 2020. In April 2010, CARB adopted a final set of regulaFeedstock CI, Well-to-Wheel Indirect Land Total CI tions that is now codified at Use Change (gCo2e/MJ) Cal. Code Regs. tit. 17, §§ Corn Oil 4 0 4.00 95,480-95,490. The LCFS 11.76-18.72 11.76-18.72 applies to transportation fuels Used Cooking Oil that are “sold, supplied, or Tallow 34.11 0 34.11 offered for sale in California” Animal Fat 40.18 0 40.18 and “any person who as a Canola 31.99 31 62.99 regulated party…is responSoybean 21.25 62 83.25 sible for a transportation fuel in a calendar year.” The LCFS applies to a wide range of transportation fuels and technologies including liquid and gCO2e/MJ reduction and therefore generates about eight times as many CI credits for the regulated parties. gaseous fuels such as biodiesel, hydrogen and biomethane. Using an approximate rule of thumb, each 10g of While somewhat comparable to the federal renewable fuel reduction is worth about 1.25 cents per gallon when the standard (RFS), there are significant variations between the carbon market price is $10 per ton. UCO would provide 10 programs. cents per gallon. The recent market range has been in the The LCFS reduces GHG emissions by regulating the $30 to $40 per ton resulting in soy generating a value of 4 full life-cycle carbon intensity (CI) of transportation fuels to 5 cents per gallon and UCO biodiesel providing a 30- to used in California. The CI score of a fuel reflects not only 40-cent credit for the producer. Mixed feedstock producers GHG emissions created at the time of combustion, but must follow CARB requirements to account for their blends also the GHG emissions associated with its extraction and on a batch basis and cannot apportion the batch so that all refining, its transport to California, and any indirect land use the low CI gallons go to California and all the other gallons change (ILUC) attributed to the feedstock based on GHG go to other states. land use modeling. Regulated parties (petroleum refiners Notably, soy’s CI score is considerably worse than and importers) must meet an annual standard for CI, which canola due to the attribution of twice as much ILUC impact decreases more rapidly in the later years of the program. to soy as to canola. CARB staff is currently working on The increasingly difficult CI requirements and the ability to reviewing the soy and canola modeling and expects to bank credits drive value for biodiesel producers who supply revise the soy CI score by November, which may result in low CI biodiesel into California. California CI credits may be improved credit opportunity for soy producers. generated in addition to RINs under the federal renewable fuel standard and create two revenue streams for qualified Author: Graham Noyes biodiesel. Attorney, Stoel Rives LLP 206-386-7615 For biodiesel producers, feedstock is the controlling email@example.com factor of the CI score as it heavily influences the biodiesel’s 6
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One Company’s Waste is Another Company’s Feedstock BY DOUG SMITH
The art of rendering has been around for centuries either as a means of producing fats for food, or for the industry of the time. Bygone years of rendering for cooking fats, soap making, candle production, naval stores, and grease for the cap and ball hand guns of the Civil War are pretty much in the past with the exception of small niche markets, and for historical preservation. All the while, the rendering industry remains invisible to most of society. The rendering industry of today is very different from the past industry by virtue of modern computer-controlled cooking systems, high-efficiency extraction, and regulations to control and track the waste feedstocks to the final products, which are analyzed for many items from moisture content to pesticide screening, metals and sulfur. The markets into which rendered products are sold are different from the past and appear to be continuing to change. Traditionally and currently, the major markets are for agriculture use in feed ration blends for livestock to increase the calorie intake for each pound of feed eaten. This addition of fat results in faster growth of the animals, shorter time to market, and less expense to produce the food we eat every day. Other usages direct the fats into the oleo chemicals industry. Many of these oleo chemicals can be found in paints, plastics, textile-sizing waxes for cloth production, textile softeners, lubricants and many more products. From the oleo chemicals industry, we also get the chemical that most of the readers will really relate to, and that is methyl esters of fatty acids (biodiesel). Another growing segment of the buyers of rendered fats and oils is the competing industry of “renewable diesel” producers. Many renewable diesel producers are petroleum refiners who use the rendered products for reasons that vary from having a reliable, renewable feedstock, to other reasons such as fulfilling environmental portfolios. The increase in the number of industries that use rendered products has been and is either a blessing or a curse, depending on who you are. The sword of Damocles hangs over all industries producing or selling fats and oils; for the rendering industry, the additional sales and markets have resulted in increased sales prices and profits but have also spawned theft and vandalism for many. And as industry goes, the losses and additional costs of production do two things, they cut into renderers’ profits and increase the cost to the buyer of the feedstocks, cutting into that industry’s bottom line.
Most reputable biodiesel producers understand these issues, and this has resulted in reputable competition for collecting waste oils at restaurants by biodiesel producers, or the understanding of feedstock prices from the renderer, which results in a sales relationship that continues to grow, helping to solidify the feedstock supply for that biodiesel producer. Many who have tried have found that collecting their own fats and oils can get expensive when the vehicles and processing equipment have to be purchased, in addition to the operating costs. Currently the products sold by renderers are tallow, lard, poultry fat, yellow grease (aka inedible kitchen grease, used cooking oil), and brown grease (aka trap grease, interceptor grease). Tallow, lard and poultry fat are made from the scraps, trimmings and offal of beef, swine and chickens and turkeys, respectively. The process begins with the inspection of the material to prevent contaminants from entering the system, and then the material goes through a sizing grinder that feeds a continuous feed cooker, where the material is cooked at around 270 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes to mainly kill any pathogens in the material and liberate the fats. The fat is then pressed from the solids where it goes through further filtering and drying before being quality checked to meet industry and customer specs. Yellow grease goes through a screening process and then is heated to allow faster decanting of the water and some solids. After decanting, the grease is heated to dry the remaining water and at the same time kill pathogens. Quality testing is then conducted to meet specs. Brown grease is brought in with all of the trap water and solids, which first go through screening to remove solids and dirt. The fat material is heated to decant water, then heated to dry and kill pathogens. Further filtering may be necessary to make this material meet specs for customers, but goes through the same quality testing to make sure the customers receive consistent products. Author: Doug Smith R&D Director, Baker Commodities Inc. 323-268-2801 ext. 3283 firstname.lastname@example.org
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EVENTS CALENDAR LDCommodities.com International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo JUNE 10-13, 2013
America’s Center St. Louis, Missouri Where Producers Meet Now in its 29th year, the FEW provides the global ethanol industry with cutting-edge content and unparalleled networking opportunities in a dynamic business-to-business environment. The FEW is the largest, longest running ethanol conference in the world—and the only event powered by Ethanol Producer Magazine. 866-746-8385 | www.fuelethanolworkshop.com
National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo SEPTEMBER 10-12, 2013
CenturyLink Center Omaha Omaha, Nebraska Proving Pathways. Building Capacity. Produced by BBI International, this national event will feature the world of advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals—technology scale-up, project finance, policy, national markets and more—with a core focus on the industrial, petroleum and agribusiness alliances defining the national advanced biofuels industry. 866-746-8385 | www.advancedbiofuelsconference.com
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Algae Biomass Summit
SEPTEMBER 30-OCTOBER 3, 2013 Hilton Orlando Orlando, Florida This dynamic event unites industry professionals from all sectors of the world’s algae utilization industries including, but not limited to, financing, algal ecology, genetic systems, carbon partitioning, engineering and analysis, biofuels, animal feeds, fertilizers, bioplastics, supplements and foods. 866-746-8385 | www.algaebiomasssummit.org
International Biomass Conference & Expo
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Community Active Participation in the Communities Where We Live and Work.
MARCH 24-26, 2014
Orlando Convention Center Orlando, Florida Organized by BBI International and coproduced by Biomass Magazine, the International Biomass Conference & Expo program will include 30-plus panels and more than 100 speakers, including 90 technical presentations on topics ranging from anaerobic digestion and gasification to pyrolysis and combined heat and power. This dynamic event unites industry professionals from all sectors of the world’s interconnected biomass utilization industries—biobased power, thermal energy, fuels and chemicals. 866-746-8385 | www.biomassconference.com
Commitment Supported by the Reliability and Financial Security of Louis Dreyfus Commodities.
MAY | JUNE 2013
Biodiesel News & Trends
Lignol Energy Corp. has invested around $2.6 million to acquire approximately 356 million shares of Australian Renewable Fuels Ltd. (ARW). ARW is the largest biodiesel producer in Australia, owning three plants with a total nameplate capacity of around 40 MMgy. Its three plants were built at an aggregate cost of more than $103.9 million. Lignol’s latest investment was funded in part from major shareholder Difference Capital Funding Inc. Lignol now owns a total of 898 million shares of ARW, or 21.4 percent. Environmental Development Group put its small biodiesel facility in Tucson, Ariz., up for sale. The plant, EDG Fuels, has potential to produce 3 MMgy in addition to tank farm storage capable of holding 60,000 gallons of feedstock and 30,000 gallons of biodiesel in an industrial area of the city. EDG Fuels opened in March 2010. Portugal-based Incbio signed a contract with Biofuel Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Green Energy Group Ltd., to supply a 2.4 MMgy biodiesel plant for installation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The plant will employ Incbio’s ultrasonic reactors and solid catalyst acid esterification technology to produce biodiesel from brown grease. Completion is expected this summer. The California Energy Commission announced it is awarding Buster Biofuels $2.64 million from its alternative and renewable fuel and vehicle technology program to build a biodiesel plant in San Diego scaled at nearly 5 MMgy. The commission stated the funds would be used to convert a 7,300-square-foot industrial warehouse building into a biodiesel manufacturing and fueling facility. Buster Biofuels is a San Diego grease collector and biodiesel distributor. United Refining Co., through its subsidiary United Biofuels Inc., has acquired a partially completed 50 MMgy biodiesel facility in Brooklyn, N.Y., as part of the acquisition by its parent company, United Refining Inc., of certain assets of Metro Fuel Oil Corp. and its affiliates. The multifeedstock facility is estimated to become 10
PHOTO: CHANNEL BIOREFINERY & TERMINALS LLC
Biodiesel plant news from around the world
SLEEPING GIANT: The former GreenHunter Biofuels facility in the Houston Ship Channel is under new ownership and is planned for Phase 1 startup this summer.
operational within a year and will be one of the largest biodiesel facilities on the East Coast. Channel Biorefinery & Terminals LLC purchased the longtime idled GreenHunter Biofuels biodiesel production facility on the Houston Ship Channel back in October and held a March groundbreaking ceremony to launch its “fast-start” project to get the plant running by July. The GreenHunter facility was hit by Hurricane Ike in September 2008 just months after opening and never restarted as the global financial crisis unfolded. Kenneth P. Brown, president and CEO of Channel Biorefinery & Terminals, tells Biodiesel Magazine there’s a short- and long-term plan. Getting the plant running up to 35 MMgy is the immediate plan, followed by significant investment to remove bottlenecks, becoming truly multifeedstock and boosting capacity to 75 MMgy. A supply agreement to send biodiesel to Shell Canada Ltd. by an interterminal pipeline from Biox Corp. will help Shell Canada achieve its renewable fuels target. Biox’s Hamilton, Ontario, biodiesel refinery with production capacity near 18 MMgy is located adjacent to the Shell distribution terminal, which allows for a
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pipeline to be installed connecting the two facilities. The connection is expected to be completed by late 2013. Piedmont Biofuels of Pittsboro, N.C., has been certified under the internationally recognized Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels Program following a third-party assessment conducted by SCS Global Services. The assessment included an inspection of the biodiesel plant and several of the filling stations, and verification that Piedmont’s biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent compared to conventional diesel. BDI-BioEnergy International has been commissioned by a company in Southeast Europe to build a 30 MMgy multifeedstock biodiesel plant. The final contract for construction of the plant is expected in the coming months. Extreme Biodiesel announced it has entered into discussions with Temecula, Calif.-based Promethean Biofuels, a community-scale biodiesel producer with production capacity between 2 and 3 MMgy, to negotiate Promethean Biofuels’ acquisition.
Jatropha plantations planned for West Africa Jatropha developer JOil Pte. Ltd. has signed a memorandum of understanding with West Africa alternative energy grower and jatropha processor Agritech Faso SA. JOil and Agritech will explore the development of more than 600,000 acres of jatropha plantations intercropped with food crops using JOil’s elite, high-yielding jatropha varieties. Field trials will be carried out using JOil’s growing materials at Agritech’s plantations in Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin. The two parties will enter into a formal business arrangement based on the results of the trials. The planned plantations will include not only jatropha crops but also a refinery to produce biofuels, the companies stated, in addition to Agritech’s existing high-efficiency processing plant located in Boni, nearly 150 miles from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital. The footprint is expected to be around 618,000 acres when in full operation. All planting materials will be supplied by JOil, which will also provide technical consultation for the field trials and subsequent development of the plantation. Agritech’s founding members started to work on biofuel projects in 2007 and the company has identified West Africa as a promising region for cultivation of jatropha, using its proprietary intercropping models. In Sub-Saharan Africa where vegetative cover is scarce, intercropping food crops with jatropha helps to stop soil erosion and restores degraded lands providing a significant increase and sustainability on food crops yields.
EU requires registration of Argentine, Indonesian imports In April the European Commission published Regulation 330/2013 making Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel imports subject to registration after antisubsidy and antidumping complaints launched by the European Biodiesel Board last year. This decision supports the arguments drawn by the European biodiesel industry that policy-based differential export taxes (DETs) play a distortive role in international trade. The commission regulation indicates that it has at its disposal sufficient prima facie evidence that imports of the product concerned from the countries are being subsidized through a system of DETs. In both countries concerned, an export tax is charged on the raw material, at rates that are higher than those charged on the export of biodiesel. This approach, according to the EBB, effectively obliges the producers of the raw material to sell on the domestic market, thus depressing prices and artificially reducing the costs of the biodiesel producers. With respect to blends, importers are now required, by the regulation published, to indicate to customs the proportion of the total content of biodiesel in the blends, for subsequent registration. The registration measures will
remain in force for the next nine months, meanwhile investigations will continue to establish provisional and definitive duties against both dumped and subsidized imports from these two countries. MAY | JUNE 2013
NBB Here to Serve Members, Advance Biodiesel Industry The National Biodiesel Board is the national trade association representing America’s first advanced biofuel. We work to create sustainable biodiesel industry growth through education, communication, governmental affairs, technical, and quality assurance programs. Serving as the coordinating body for research and development in the U.S., NBB is comprised of state, national and international feedstock and feedstock processor organizations, biodiesel suppliers, fuel marketers and distributors, and technology providers. NBB exists to serve and provide value to its members. As NBB evolved from a research and development group into a comprehensive membership association, we realized the strength that has come with a growing, diversified membership. We are proud of the fact that NBB has remained unified and is committed to continuing to provide all of our members the highest possible quality service and value. NBB is structured to make it easy for members to guide their trade association. Annually, members nominate and elect the 15-member governing board and five-member executive committee. Several volunteer and specified committees are active at any given time that monitor and participate in important issues. Committees include: Regulatory, Technical, Marketing, Trade, Executive, Audit, Election, Finance and Investment, and the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission. Every fall, NBB gathers input for the annual program plan through member surveys, webinars and the November membership meeting that builds into a specific scope of work and budget for the next fiscal year. The project concepts are presented to the membership multiple times before their final approval. The member-developed plan is then executed by NBB staff and results in important accomplishments for the industry such as a renewed biodiesel tax incentive, the expanded renewable fuel standard, national advertising campaigns, growing support from OEMs, new feedstock development and much more. Along with providing a uniform voice in policy efforts, one of the greatest benefits NBB provides its membership is its ability to leverage membership dues with other funding sources. Membership dues made up roughly a quarter of NBB’s total revenue last year and are focused primarily on supporting NBB’s federal and state policy efforts. Additional revenue comes from soybean checkoff support
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and competitive federal grants. These funds cannot legally be used for policy efforts, so instead they are applied to support critical industry programs that leverage and compliment industry priorities. For every dollar that members contribute in dues, NBB has been able to raise three additional dollars to use in areas that the industry says is a priority. So that means NBB is Doug Whitehead, able to keep its member dues relatively modest Director of in comparison to the amount of project work Operations and Membership, that is undertaken each year. National Biodiesel NBB has many ways for members to par- Board ticipate and stay current on their trade association. This includes regular emails, Washington updates, three annual membership meetings, monthly government affairs calls, program webinars, town hall meetings, the Biodiesel Conference & Expo, the NBB family of websites, social media and more. This spring, to add another venue for member participation, we have added four regional member meetings for information-sharing and collaboration. These meetings are taking place in May and July in Atlantic City, Sacramento, Des Moines, and Houston. Each region is unique to the industry and faces many challenges, some similar and some that are very different. That is why NBB CEO Joe Jobe and program managers from each department are participating in these meetings and visiting with members in their own backyards. The biodiesel industry has achieved much in the past 20 years through strong leadership from within the industry, and a determined, unified commitment to purpose. Engaged participation in the industry’s trade association is crucial to ensure that momentum continues and NBB staff are dedicated to serving its mem- To learn more about the National bers every single Biodiesel Board visit www.nbb.org. For day and in every- information on becoming a member, visit www.nbb.org/join-us/how-to-join. thing that we do. Doug Whitehead, Director of Operations and Membership, National Biodiesel Board
NBB Gearing up for grassroots advocacy at June membership meeting The National Biodiesel Board’s June membership meeting in Washington, D.C., is one of the industry’s best opportunities to make an impact on Capitol Hill, and that should be particularly true this year as the renewable fuel standard (RFS) and renewable tax incentives are getting outsized attention. While NBB and the industry have been successful in recent years in preserving its top priorities, the industry must continue to maintain a presence to ensure representatives in Congress are aware of the growing impact the biodiesel industry is having on the economy, energy security and the environment. There is no greater way to convey that message than with personal visits on Capitol Hill from biodiesel producers and other stakeholders. Those who have never attended the
June membership meeting or advocated in Washington are particularly encouraged to participate. The agenda will include everything needed to prepare you for Hill visits, with updates on the RFS, the biodiesel tax incentive and other programs, as well as the latest information on the industry’s economic impact, environmental benefits and other points of interest that members of Congress need to hear. NBB staff will be there to guide you through the process, provide you with the resources you need, and help organize meetings. “Winning the tax incentive back last year and strengthening the RFS were significant victories that came only because our industry was united and engaged,” said Anne Steckel, who oversees NBB’s Washington office as vice president of federal affairs. “But
we are working in a very difficult environment in Washington where the RFS and the biodiesel tax incentive are increasingly coming under attack. We urge all NBB members to attend this important meeting and make their voices heard in Congress this June.”
BiodieselNow app helping consumers find fuel
New Biodiesel Now app helps consumers find biodiesel fueling locations on the go.
The National Biodiesel Board launched its first mobile app for both iPhone and Android devices at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in February and it has seen early success with users. After the initial launch at the conference, downloads continue to be steady for this mobile app that provides biodiesel users a map to the nearest retailer as well as industry updates through a news feature. “We understood from the beginning of the development process that the initial attraction for this app would primarily be within our industry and those who utilize our fuel,” said Doug Whitehead, director of operations and membership at NBB. “We plan to continue to enhance the features of the app to broaden the user base, helping us educate a larger audience of the many great benefits of biodiesel.” Another unique feature of this app is the rewards program that allows the user to collect points for every gallon of biodiesel purchased
and for reading the news feed within the app. With each point the user grows a series of trees within the app and when the tree is fully grown, the user is able to select from a small group of items as a reward. “The heart and soul of the app is to make it easier for people to find and use biodiesel,” Whitehead said. “But at the same time, if we can make the app appeal to a wider audience through offering rewards, we are going to do that. More downloads mean more people seeing biodiesel and more awareness and engagement in the industry.” To download the free app, visit the iPhone App Store or Google Play for Android devices and search “BiodieselNow.” Also, visit http:// app.biodiesel.org for more information.
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Partnership programs extend NBB’s reach, amplify its voice Everyone knows two is better than one, right? There is power in numbers. That’s the idea behind NBB’s partnership programs that connect various organizations and individuals who share a common interest in and support for America’s advanced biofuel, biodiesel. These networks of advocates support biodiesel and use their diverse backgrounds and expertise to raise the level of biodiesel understanding and awareness in their communities and nationally. The broadest of those programs is the Biodiesel Alliance and Backers. The alliance is a diverse coalition of organizations, agencies and businesses from across the country that support the use of biodiesel. The Biodiesel Backers program is the same thing, except it’s for individuals. They are open to all friends of biodiesel, ranging from farmers to fleet managers, to organizations, agencies and businesses. From biodiesel pump openings, to grant announcements, to the latest biodiesel research and industry news, the Biodiesel Alliance provides members with information and resources to help make their jobs easier. In addition, it’s a great way to get the word out to supporters about state and local events and other happenings. Joining is easy and it’s free! Just visit the Partnership Programs link on the Results tab of www.nbb.org. NBB also launched the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel, the first worldwide biodiesel network for students. Many of these promising young scientists, and future energy leaders, have attended the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, participated in webinars
NBB’s Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program is one of many that get biodiesel supporters engaged in the industry.
and connected with biodiesel industry leaders through the program. Scientists for Biodiesel is a similar network for working scientists. Finally, the Biodiesel Ambassadors program engages biodiesel’s greatest champions and provides them with the tools they need to succeed in educating others on the benefits of biodiesel. These volunteers are given opportunities to use their biodiesel expertise to raise the level of understanding in their communities and nationally. Please spread the word about these exciting NBB partnership programs that are helping the biodiesel industry increase its reach and strengthen its voice.
NBBIT maintains No. 1 biodiesel site in US, offers services to the industry The IT division of the National Biodiesel Board, known as NBBIT, is not only responsible for designing and maintaining the websites that make up the NBB family of websites, it also provides website/email hosting, website design/maintenance, graphic design, and other IT services for clients across the country. Led by Scott Tremain, NBB's IT director, NBBIT currently manages and maintains more than 120 web domains. NBB’s family of websites attracts more than half a million visits each year from people looking for biodiesel “Having a full service IT information. department inhouse allows NBB to do “A number of NBB members are small businesses or everything needed to keep the NBB organizations that have limited resources,” Tremain said. “If we can family of websites the No. 1 place for biodiesel information online,” said Tremain. “It also allows us to offer those same valuable IT services help them maintain a Web presence at a reduced rate, it is good for those businesses, and good for the biodiesel industry as a whole.” to NBB members at a discount.” In 2012, the NBB family of websites saw more than 586,000 NBB members are eligible to receive discounts including a 25 combined visits with www.NBB.org and www.biodiesel.org leading the percent discount on all Web design services, a 20 percent discount on way with more than 266,000 and 174,000 visits respectively. all webhosting services, free domain registration and setup on all new For a full list of services and for contact information, visit www. website accounts, and free transfer and setup on all existing website nbbit.com. accounts. BIODIESEL MAGAZINE MAY | JUNE 2013 14
NBB member vehicle discount plans from Big 3 offer big savings Members of the National Biodiesel Board now have access to big savings on the purchase or lease of new vehicles from all of the U.S. Big Three automakers: Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. NBB members have enjoyed the benefit of substantial discounts available through the Chrysler Affiliate Rewards Program and Ford X-Plan Partner Recognition Program for a few years. And now, NBB’s OEM Outreach team has negotiated a similarly lucrative plan for NBB members through General Motors’ Supplier Discount Program. This “trifecta” of NBB membership benefits has already helped hundreds of NBB members save thousands of dollars off the manufacturers’ suggested retail price on a new vehicle purchase. Ed Erickson Jr., of North Dakota, national director of the American Soybean Association and an NBB member, said, “Sometimes it’s hard to convince a person to buy a membership in their growers association or the NBB when they’re already paying checkoff dues, etc. But I can attest that the value our members receive from these vehicle discount programs, along with access to so many other great educational resources, make it all worth it. Value and information—that’s what it’s about—and this is a great deal!” Could this be the year you save big on a new set of wheels as well? Perhaps a Ford Super Duty bearing the powerful B20 emblem, or the rugged Ram pickup featured in Chrysler’s memorable “Farmer” Super Bowl commercial, or even the new Chevy Cruze diesel passenger car approved for use with B20 biodiesel blends? These and many more
great vehicles from the Big Three can be yours at a deep discount. To get started, current NBB members in good standing simply need to call the National Biodiesel Board’s Vehicle Discount Hotline at 313-703-SAVE (7283) to register and confirm your eligibility, and our helpful representatives will walk you through the simple process to access your chosen discount program through Chrysler, Ford or General Motors. Additional information on the discount programs, sample pricing, and answers to frequently asked questions can also be found under the Member Benefits section of NBB’s Members Only website at www.nbb.org.
NBB’s Howell honored for contributions to biodiesel industry The American Oil Chemists’ Society recently selected Steve Howell for the prestigious AOCS Fellow Award. Howell, who has served as technical director at the National Biodiesel Board since shortly after its inception in 1992, is credited with helping to navigate the nascent biodiesel industry through an obstacle course of technical challenges. Those include completing both Tier I and Tier II health effects testing, establishing ASTM standards, and securing original equipment manufacturer (OEM) approval, to name just a few. “Thanks to the many technical accomplishments of Steve Howell, the U.S. biodiesel industry is now a meaningful supplement to the nation’s diesel fuel supply,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of NBB. “I can personally attest to his hard work, integrity and very special talents. He deserves this recognition.” A chemical engineer, Howell emerged from a career with Proctor & Gamble in the early 1990s to pursue the potential of biodiesel as a renewable energy source for the nation. P&G was one of the first producers of biodiesel, and Howell was at the vanguard of produc-
tion technology. Recognizing his unique skills as a scientist, collaborator and communicator, NBB recruited him to lead its national technical program. Howell is also president of Marc-IV Consulting Inc. “In its history, AOCS has named only about 85 people as Fellows, and their names constitute some of the very best in the fats and oils professions from around the globe,” said Mike Haas, a USDA researcher and past president of AOCS. “Steve Howell deserves to be among them.” The AOCS motto is “Connecting the science of oil chemistry to our daily lives,” and that’s something Jobe says Howell excels at. “As a brilliant scientist, he has an uncommon ability to communicate complex subjects to individuals with the highest levels of knowledge and experience all the way down to beginners,” Jobe said. “He’s truly one of a kind.”
MAY | JUNE 2013
PHOTO: INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS OF AMERICA INC.
Companies, Organizations & People in the News
for convenient transfer options, and an inline 10-micron water-blocking filter. IPA also offers the patent-pending Fleet Tank Sweeper, a device to clean fuel tanks without removing them from the vehicle, to help prevent filter blocking, injector wear, poor fuel mileage and power loss. The FTS includes flexible intake and output wands, a water-blocking filter with a clear sight glass, hoses and quick disconnect fittings. The FTS can be used to blend biodiesel and additives as well. Both products are made and assembled in the U.S. For more information, contact email@example.com.
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The Industrial Fuel Cleaner and Transfer System by Innovative Products of America is a mobile unit designed to transfer and filter diesel, biodiesel and fuel blends. It features a 20-gallon-per-minute pump powered by two group 31 batteries, as well as a digitally metered nozzle to ensure accurate record keeping. The system also includes an 11foot intake hose, a 12-foot output swivel hose
Former Promethean Biofuels business developer Roy Krebs has started a new company called Eco Feedstock. “While working at Promethean, I discovered a shortage of consistent and, most importantly, competitively priced feedstock,” Krebs tells Biodiesel Magazine. With access to proprietary nano emulsion technology, Krebs intends to help solve the pricing and consistency problems with feedstock by converting large volumes of low-quality
waste oils such as brown grease “into highgrade oil that meets or exceeds virgin soy oil specs,” Krebs says. “Basically, the niche is supplying low-cost, highly refined ‘process-ready’ feedstock derived from waste oils and greases,” he adds. For more information, visit www. ecofeedstock.com.
The host, venue and date for the 2013 Collective Biofuels Conference is now set. The CBC board of directors announced that Dara Lor, president and founder of Summit Greasecycling, has been selected as the official host of the event, to take place Aug. 15-18 in Breckenridge, Colo., on the grounds of the newly constructed Colorado Mountain College. Lor has been active in the grassroots biodiesel community and as a participant of the CBC for several years. Boulder, Colo.-based ClearEcos will assist Lor in co-organizing the event. Lor and the other conference organizers can be reached at biodieselconference@gmail. com. Those who are interested in presenting or nominating someone else, or have ideas and
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Select FF, the next generation of OilDri Corp. of America’s natural silicates, offers fast filtration in a highly effective adsorbent for the removal of polar contaminants such as soaps, metals and phospholipids from fats and oils. Select FF is used to produce clean, quality edible oils and biodiesel feedstock to meet the most demanding specifications. Select FF improves oil throughput and is optimized for superior adsorbent flowability, even in extreme cold or high-moisture conditions. A secondary benefit is effective removal of chlorophyll and color pigments. In addition, it supports a higher flash point, lower cloud point and glycerin in biodiesel processing for multiple feedstock types. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cima Green, Katirina Tracy has taken on a new role with the company as senior director of sales and operations. Cima Green says Tracy’s change in roles is driving the organization’s new strategy toward greater market focus. Tracy tells Biodiesel Magazine she’s excited about her new senior directorship of sales. “It’s been so nice to see such an outpouring of support for me in this new role,” she says, adding that driving sales, along with being a team leader and having a more direct involvement in trading, are welcomed responsibilities. “She’s one of only a few women in a senior trading role,” says Joseph Furando, Cima Green founder and senior vice president of sales and marketing. “I only see her going up from here.” Furando notes that, as COO, it was difficult for Tracy to get the needed face time with clients, something Tracy said she looks forward to.
SCS Global Services has announced the expansion of its biofuel certification services in Southeast Asia. The third-party environmental certification body will now conduct audits under the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification program, which will allow biofuel producers in Southeast Asia to meet the requirements for export into the European Union under the EU Renewable Energy Directive. A number of Asian countries have set national goals related to biofuel usage. The governments of Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines each have put biofuel mandates in place that require a certain percentage of energy to be produced with biofuels. Certifications like ISCC can ensure that the expansion of biofuel production will not negatively impact food security and will not create an incentive for deforestation. SCS also offers certifications for responsibly produced biofuels under the Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels and Bonsucro standards.
After three years as chief operating officer for biodiesel trading and marketing firm
The Methes Energies Denami series Compact Continuous Biodiesel Production System WWW.METHES.COM The flexibility of a compact system that provides stand alone production with varied feedstocks. or The security of a backup system for alternative feedstock production for your current biodiesel facility! Specifications: • Continuous Flow • Multi-Feedstock • 16 weeks Delivery Time • Full Support & Lifetime Warranty • Stainless Steel Construction • Stainless Steel Tanks and Pipes • Robust & Secure PLC System Architecture and Software • Commissioning & On-site Training • 1 Operator Fully Automated Production • Fully Tested Before Delivery A compact commercial production pipe to pipe solution. A modular and scalable design. Contact our Sales Team eMail: email@example.com or Phone: 702.932.9964
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MAY | JUNE 2013
The Distillers Corn Oil Craze What biodiesel producers should know before buying into the hype BY RON KOTRBA
Distillers corn oil (DCO) use for biodiesel nearly doubled in the U.S. from 2011 to 2012, jumping from around 40.5 million gallons in 2011 to 76 million gallons in 2012, still only a fraction of the 1 billionplus gallons of biodiesel produced both years. Biodiesel made from DCO has a slightly better cloud point (CP) than yellow grease (YG) or used cooking oil (UCO) biodiesel. DCO biodiesel CP is about 27 degrees Fahrenheit; UCO biodiesel CP is around 36 degrees, and YG biodiesel CP is 43 degrees. DCO typically trades at a slight discount to YG and generally follows YG pricing trends, says Kristof Reiter, founder and owner of feedstock trading and consulting firm Reiter Scientific. There are, however, vastly different qualities of DCO on the market that can bring higher or lower prices. According to Reiter’s calculations using pricing information from The Jacobsen, production margins for DCO in 2012 for a small biodiesel plant ( less than 2 MMgy) was around 49 cents per gallon, less than the margin of YG (Illinois pricing) at 65 cents per gallon. “I assumed both oils needed esterification, and the DCO required degumming,” Reiter says. “I also took into account feedstock transport, small producer overhead and brokering fees.” Through the first quarter of this year, DCO and YG margins have become very similar, coming in at 53 and 56 cents per gallon, respectively. Reiter’s numbers are based on the assumption that the DCO prices reported by Jacobsen are for higher quality DCO material and that retroactive tax credits
are not included as part of the assumed biodiesel production profit margins in 2012. There is some speculation as to how much of the retroactive credit the average producer captured. “While B99 trades at exactly $1 per gallon less than B100 during years with tax credits, B99 didn’t trade exactly $1 cheaper during years of expired tax credits,” Reiter says. “Rather, the B99 price was somewhat hedged to split a possible retroactive credit so as to give a portion of the risk and benefit of a retro credit during that year to both the producer and distributor. Given this uncertainty, we decided it would be more insightful to calculate that the numbers don’t reflect ‘ultimate margins’ in 2012, when producers operated without a credit until retroactive credits were passed, but rather the ‘realtime’ margins attained. The data suggests that if IRS credits were passed on a longer-term basis, the net result would be less risk to producers and lower cost to consumers.” Some biodiesel producers, such as 5 MMgy Walsh BioFuels, hold DCO processing as trade secrets and don’t wish to discuss them. Large producer Renewable Energy Group also wouldn’t share quantity and conversion nuances, but acknowledges 85 percent of its 2012 feedstock was nonsoybean oil. Jatrodiesel ran DCO six months straight last year, around 500,000 gallons, at its test facility in Dayton, Ohio. President Raj Mosali says for a 5 MMgy plant, margins for DCO priced at the YG index range from 90 cents to $1.50 per gallon. His figures include the $1 per gallon federal credit, 10 cents per gallon for the production tax credit, plus RIN prices, not considering state incentives. If ethanol producers chose to install biodiesel process-
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FEEDSTOCK ing equipment onsite, their margins would be on the higher end. Jatrodiesel has built 15 biodiesel plants in the U.S. and now seeks partnerships with ethanol producers and renderers with captive feedstock to further boost revenues generated from DCO and similar products. Jim Ringo, president of Poet Nutrition, a division of Poet LLC, the largest U.S. dry mill ethanol producer, says, “We are investigating [onsite biodiesel production], but the question has to be answered, ‘do we want to be in the biodiesel business at all?’” he says. “The economics are very different from ethanol. A
biodiesel facility is a capital investment, so really first and foremost, the situation has to [evolve] to where we believe biodiesel economics and end markets are sustainable during the investment period.” Poet sells its Voila-branded DCO at a premium because its product is “cleaner,” having a maximum free fatty acid (FFA) content of 5 percent and max total MIU (moisture, insolubles and unsaponifiables) of 3 percent. Marketer RPMG’s DCO contains 15 percent FFA max and a maximum 3 percent MIU. RPMG markets about 200 million pounds (27 million gallons) of DCO from 12 ethanol plants
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MAY | JUNE 2013
across the U.S. Sixty to 70 percent of RPMG’s DCO goes to biodiesel production. Poet’s BPX (“cold cook”) fermentation approach uses lower processing temperatures, thus fewer FFAs are liberated. Ringo says once all of Poet’s plants are spinning, it will have capacity to produce about 500 million pounds (67 million gallons) of Voila. About 60 percent goes into the biodiesel industry with the other 40 percent selling into feed markets. Ringo says if every U.S. ethanol plant were spinning this year, total DCO availability would be around 2.6 billion pounds (347 million gallons) based on 4.5 billion bushels of corn expected for ethanol production, subtracting 500 million bushels for wet milling, using the industry average of 0.65 pounds of DCO per bushel. As technologies improve, expect that volume to grow. Grain sorghum has an advanced biofuel pathway under RFS2 and producers like Poet are looking into using more. While the verdict is out on how this might affect biodiesel producers, Ringo says pilot trials haven’t shown a noticeable difference in oil quality. “At this point it’s probably more about customer perception and the regulatory process,” he says. A major difference between DCO and UCO is UCO was a refined, bleached and deodorized food-grade product. This is why DCO is dark red and contains gums and waxes that otherwise are not present in biodiesel feedstock. “We have a tendency when working with products such as yellow grease to think FFAs are the whole story,” says Jon Van Gerpen, a renowned biodiesel researcher at the University of Idaho, “but that’s not really true with corn oil. You have a whole suite of additional compounds that are present and that can complicate the biodiesel process.” YG is a “far superior feedstock for biodiesel than corn oil,” Van Gerpen says. “It doesn’t have this sort of witch’s brew of contaminants.” He recommends frontend wax removal. “That usually involves a cooling operation to get waxes to crystallize, then filtration to remove the crystallized wax,” he says. Gums, at least those that are hydratable and were hydrated during fermentation, should come out with the waxes during chilling and filtration, but the nonhydratable gums might not get removed. “If you have nonhydratable gums, then you really need to use phosphoric or citric acid to hydrate them,” Van Gerpen says, adding that the acid injection
FEEDSTOCK would be done prior to chilling and filtration. Jatrodiesel performed no additional frontend pretreatment on nonpremium DCO and saw no issues. Mosali says he doesn’t understand paying more for low-FFA material, unless a producer is not outfitted for higher FFA feedstock. “They might buy Poet’s corn oil and blend with soy to end up at 2.5 percent FFA or something, and make their equipment work,” he says, “but you won’t see anyone out there who has put in a frontend esterification unit paying a premium for low-FFA material.” Mosali continues, “Once we convert it to biodiesel, cold chill the product and take it through cold soak filtration, any unconverted gums will be captured at the very end,” he says. “Most of what we’ve seen is it all falls through in the glycerin phase. We know people put in filtration equipment on the frontend to get rid of waxes and gums. We didn’t do any of that, we just took it through our process and had no issues.” Van Gerpen questions whether waxes would come out in the glycerin. “I don’t think they are polar compounds,” he says. “If they were polar, they would come out with absorbents. I think they’re going to stay in the biodiesel. The good news is, they might be more soluble in diesel fuel than they are in biodiesel, but I don’t have any data to prove that.” Reiter says producers with existing sulfuric acid esterification processes coupled to resilient transesterification and water-wash processes are in a pretty good position to experiment with various grades of DCO. Running all the material through an acid esterification process on the frontend to convert FFAs to biodiesel will hydrolyze some of the gums. “And then in the transesterification phase you have the caustic environment and phase separation removing additional impurities, which is helping you,” he says. “On the flip side, processes like chilling and maturation are often incompatible with the goal of maintaining throughput, so sometimes it’s better to clean the oil first so the throughput of existing processes aren’t compromised, and costly backend filtration can be minimized.” Reiter says to take varying DCO from multiple sources, a frontend process more equivalent to robust “unidegumming” or “modified physical refining” processes is essential. “Unidegumming and modified physical refining are processes that utilize acid pretreatment, caustic, temperature controls and resonance time to
remove a significant amount of both gums and waxes,” he says. “In some cases, we can modify a facility’s existing process to make it more resilient without going to this extreme, but it really depends on how much wax and gum they’ll need to remove.” Mosali cautions that water washing may create foaming, which may ultimately affect heat exchanger performance. “You need to look at it from those sorts of angles,” he says. Dry washing may avoid this, and it could also help remove some of the color, as end users prefer lighter-colored B100. Heat also fades the
color. “If you’re doing steam stripping and you get the oil hot, it backs off from that bright red color,” Van Gerpen says. A bleaching operation would obviously lighten the color too. Reiter and others advise biodiesel producers to send samples of DCO to a lab where their process can be mimicked to determine what additional steps, if any, might be needed before commercial production. Author: Ron Kotrba Editor, Biodiesel Magazine 218-745-8347 firstname.lastname@example.org
NBB Is Your Member Organization.
MAY | JUNE 2013
EFFICIENT RESEARCH: Danforth Center algae researcher Jim Umen says to replicate what his algae farm lab does with photobioreactors (PBRs), he would need about 250 PBRs at a cost of more than $10 million. PHOTO: DONALD DANFORTH PLANT SCIENCE CENTER
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The Algae Farmer An interview with Danforth Center algae researcher James Umen QUESTIONS BY MELANIE BERNDS
James Umen joined the St. Louisbased Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in 2011 as a member of the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels. Umen’s lab is dedicated to understanding the cell biology of green algae and how they can be modified and harnessed as a crop for production of liquid transportation biofuel. Prior to his coming to the Danforth Center, Umen served as assistant professor of the Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the department of biology at Washington University in St. Louis, and an instructor at Guilin Geology College in China. Umen received his doctorate in biochemistry and biophysics from the University of California-San Francisco and his bachelor’s degree in biology from Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif. Q: In a nutshell, how do you describe your research? A: We do research on green algae in an effort to understand how photosynthetic cells grow, reproduce and develop. The algae are interesting unto themselves not only because they are a potential biofuel, but because they can also tell us more about human biology and plant biology. There are many aspects of algal biology that can provide valuable information to answer other scientific questions and practical applications. We want to understand how to take algae and turn it into a crop. Algae is at the stage where researchers are isolating wild strains that seem like they’re useful, but the next step of domesticating and modifying them will be crucial for a mature and successful algal biofuel industry. Q: Why study algae as a potential biofuel? A: The biofuel landscape is still very much unknown as to what solution or solutions are going to work well. Algae is a prime alternative to study since it doesn’t com-
pete with crop land for food production. You can grow algae in areas that are incapable of supporting crops such as deserts or areas with poor soil. Plus, once you milk the algae for the biofuels, the remnants can be utilized for other industries such as animal feed. Oil from algae is a high-energy “drop-in” biofuel that can directly replace diesel. Q: What's algae biodiesel's potential to replace or supplement petro diesel? A: Algal biofuels have gone from proof of principle and demonstration to being produced and sold on the open market. The remaining issues for making a significant impact on petroleum usage or even replacing petroleum involve scale-up, improved efficiency, supporting infrastructure, land and resource usage. None of these issues are trivial, but the progress already made is impressive and bodes well for the future. Q: Water usage is a hot topic right now in the world of agriculture. How does algae relate to this issue? A: Like any crop, plants included, algae require water. With algae, the productivity gain for the amount of water that you have to put in is potentially much higher than in crop plants. Moreover, it is possible to grow algae in closed systems where water usage is greatly reduced. Marine algae and halophilic (salt-loving) algae can grow in saltwater and brackish water; these types of algae provide a twofold advantage with respect to water usage. First, they don’t compete with people or land crops for limited fresh water and second, high levels of salt can suppress growth of bacteria and algae-consuming predators that can invade production ponds and reduce yield. Q: How will your new algae growth facility accelerate your research, and how is this technology being used? MAY | JUNE 2013
Q&A A: We custom built the algae growth facility because no commercial product existed that could be used for our research. There are some limited options out there but they’re incredibly expensive and can’t scale to our needs. Similar to a growth chamber or a greenhouse at the Danforth Center, our facility for algal growth enables us to simultaneously grow hundreds of cultures under highly reproducible and controlled environmental conditions. We can set the temperature, type of light, amount of light, day/night cycles, aeration, and CO2 levels so that we can recreate nearly any environment
and situation where algae will be growing. This highly sophisticated control system allows us to grow our algae very fast and give them everything they need to thrive. As an example, some of our research relies on algae becoming very synchronous in terms of growing and dividing at specific times of day and the only way we can make that work is to control the light quality, CO2 and temperature. Achieving this type of synchrony has allowed us to look at daily cyclical changes in cell physiology in unprecedented detail. It’s a wonderful research tool and all the algae we work with grow very well in the sys-
tem. We should be able to tune it to grow almost any species of algae. Q: Are there other similar algae growth facilities? How is the Danforth Center’s algae farm unique? A: As far as I know, no one else in the world has anything comparable. Our system is custom-designed and was built in collaboration with a local engineering firm. Many companies and some universities have production ponds and facilities for algae, but our algae growth facility serves a different purpose; it’s not designed for large-scale production, but for simultaneously growing many small-scale cultures under very specific and controlled conditions. Q: What was the timeline from concept stage to actual operation of the algae growth facility? A: The algae farm took more than a year from the initial vision to custom design and build. As with any new engineering project, one runs into unanticipated problems and delays. One of the key changes that slowed us down was the switch from fluorescent bulbs to LED bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs are problematic for growth of photosynthetic organisms. It’s very difficult to control light output accurately when using fluorescent bulbs. Also, they are not able to produce the wavelengths that plants and algae prefer. LED bulbs are amazing because they’re very energy efficient, which makes them last a long time, and the light output is much higher than fluorescent bulbs. With LED bulbs we can simulate intensities that range from moonlight, to full day sun, to light that is so intense that the algae become stressed and die. Q: How is the algae growth facility different than a photobioreactor or growth chambers? A: Photobioreactors are a really important tool and we also use them for our research. They’re very sophisticated and allow you to get many kinds of data about a culture in real time. The downside to photobioreactors is that they’re expensive and labor inten-
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Q&A sive to maintain and use. For the type of research that we’re doing in my lab, we need to grow hundreds of cultures. To replicate what we do with photobioreactors we would need about 250 of them at a cost of over $10 million, and they would be much more difficult to use and manage than our current culture facility. The algae farm can be compared to a sophisticated growth chamber. Our algae growth facility can’t do as much as a photobioreactor but does allow us to have really reproducible growth conditions for our algae, and science is based on reproducibility. Q: How does the reinstatement of the tax incentive for biodiesel and renewable diesel, and the cellulosic biofuels producer tax credit affect your research or investment in algae technology? A: They affect my research indirectly, but the impact is real. Any time an economic incentive is put out there for biofuel, it stimulates the whole process of research and development to commercialization including investment by both the government and industry.
Q: What is your impression of St. Louis and the Danforth Center so far? A: There are some real quality of life perks in St. Louis compared with San Diego where I moved from; weather and beaches notwithstanding, there is better funding for schools here, short commutes with little traffic, proximity to everything, and overall lower cost of living. Especially if you have kids, it’s an easy city to live in. What really attracted me to the Danforth Center is the mix of colleagues and the cohesiveness of the mission—using
plant science to solve major challenges facing our world, and second, having a leader like Jim Carrington (Danforth Center president). Jim has a strong vision for what he wants to do with the Danforth Center and knows how to lead us to the next level so we can achieve it. Author: Melanie Bernds Public Relations Manager, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center 314-587-1647 email@example.com
A GLOBAL UNDERSTANDING
Q: What exciting results or partnerships are you looking forward to for your lab and in algal biofuels? What does the future of your research look like? A: For starters, my lab just became a part of the Center for Advanced Biofuel Systems, which is a DOE-funded consortium of labs spearheaded by the Danforth Center with the goal of merging work on plant lipids and algal lipids, all geared toward improved understanding of making lipid-based biofuels. CABS is helping us to move forward with a project using a strain of algae that does some interesting things; this strain is able to make lipids when the normal garden variety won’t. It will give insight into how we can alter algae from doing what they are adapted to do, which is make more of themselves, to instead make more lipids for us. We hope to patent our findings and license the technology within a couple of years.
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Renewable Fuels | Biodiesel Group MAY | JUNE 2013
HARD-FOUGHT SUCCESS: Despite repeated failures and setbacks, high school sophomore Zerina Ocanovic persisted in extracting oil from used coffee grounds to make biodiesel, one of many science projects for which she has won awards, a scholarship and significant recognition. PHOTO: GRAYDON BLAIR, UTAH BIODIESEL SUPPLY
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Utah’s Young Biodiesel Phenom Introducing Zerina Ocanovic, an amazingly bright student who exemplifies the youthful passion and ingenuity of the biodiesel industry’s future BY RON KOTRBA
To those who have lost hope in the future of American youth as statistics suggest U.S. high school students lag far behind their international peers in math and science, meet Zerina Ocanovic. Just a high school sophomore at the Salt Lake Center for Science Education in Salt Lake City, Utah, Ocanovic has done, and won, more science fairs and competitions than most of us could ever dream. Her desire to experiment, learn and compete in major contests against stiff opposition has opened up a very bright future for this determined, up-and-coming scientist. Much of her work has been in renewable energy and biodiesel experimentation. “When I was in fourth grade, one of my teachers got me into doing science fair projects,” Ocanovic says. “Each year, I did an experiment. When I became a sixth grader, I did a project comparing biodiesel created from different vegetable oils. From there, my passion for renewable energy grew.” For her first biodiesel science fair project, Ocanovic reached out to Graydon Blair, owner of Utah Biodiesel Supply. “When she came over, her excitement for the project and zeal to do a thorough job were outstanding,” Blair says. “She made several samples of biodiesel and tested them for various things like cold flow, heat Btu and more. She goes above and beyond in making sure her projects are well-researched, well-tested, and then takes the extra step to ensure she thoroughly understands every aspect of the project material.” Ocanovic won first place. In middle school, Ocanovic branched out her science fair experiments into ethanol and microbial fuel cells. “When I grow up, I think I would like to study in the field of engineering,” Ocanavic tells Biodiesel Magazine. “I would like to become an engineering manager and create environmentally friendly products. I would love to be able to help Utah reduce its pollution.” Biomedical engineering also interests the young Ocanovic. “Often I go with my
grandpa to his doctor appointments, and I translate for him,” she says, adding that her family came to the U.S. from Bosnia and Herzegovina in April 1997. She was born three months later. Last summer, Ocanovic was an unpaid intern at the University of Utah bioengineering lab. As a freshman, Ocanovic raised the already high science experiment bar by growing algae fertilized with urine, extracting the oil and making biodiesel. That project won Ocanovic second place in the Salt Lake City School District, and first place in the Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair. Her prize was an $80,000 scholarship to Westminster College in her hometown. Ocanovic went on to Intel’s International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, Pa., where she competed against more than 1,500 projects from 68 countries. Ocanovic didn’t rest on her laurels, though. She was back in the lab, putting in overtime trying to extract oil from used coffee grounds, once again pushing herself to the limit. “I decided to extract oil from used coffee grounds by using a Soxhlet apparatus and hexane as a solvent,” Ocanovic says. She tested the coffee oil with a Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscope to show that the oil has properties similar to vegetable oils. “I decided to create biodiesel out of the coffee oil and analyze its properties with [Eurofin’s] Quality Trait Analysis scanner,” she says. “With this project, I was able to go on to Salt Lake City School District and compete. I won first place.” Ocanovic has also received accommodations and recognition from the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Office of Naval Research Science, and from the National Society of Professional Engineers.
Algae Work Details For her algae experiment, Ocanovic used Scendesmus dimorphus. “I grew my algae in three different media—phosphate, urine and nitrate—for two weeks,” she says. “Then MAY | JUNE 2013
PROFILE I took 500 milliliters (ml) of each media sample with algae and put in three 500 ml labeled, plastic bottles. Then I put each sample in a centrifuge machine for five minutes to separate algae from media. I took the bottles out of the centrifuge and poured all the liquid media out of the bottles so that only the algae cultures—algae paste—were left in the bottles.” Then she transferred the algae paste from each plastic bottle into labeled test tubes. She capped the tubes and froze them for four days in the freezer at -80 degrees Centigrade. All three samples were freeze dried so she could
crush each dried sample into fine algae powder, then they were weighed and put into labeled sampling tubes. “Then I created a methanolsulfuric acid solution,” Ocanovic says. “Two ml of this solution was added to each of the testing tubes with powered algae samples. Each sample was mixed on vortex machine and then put in oven on 100 degrees C for 15 minutes for the reaction to take place. I added 3 ml of hexane to each powdered algae samples and mixed them on the vortex machine for another 5 seconds. Then I put them in centrifuge for 15 seconds for everything to separate.”
DISTILLED TO BE THE BEST PROUD DISPLAY: Zerina Ocanovic exhibits her step-by-step coffee-to-biodiesel research at the SLCSD science fair, where she won first place.
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Proteins, carbohydrates and sulfuric acid fell to the bottom, Ocanovic says, adding that the second layer was methanol and the top layer was algae oil mixed with hexane. “I took the top portion of each sample and tested it in the gas chromatograph machine for biodiesel properties,” she says. “The challenges that algae experiment posed for me were that I grew algae in small containers and was able to produce just a small amount of oil.” Ultimately, Ocanovic grew about 1 gallon of algae and was left with about three drops of biodiesel that were tested in the gas chromatograph.
The Coffee Grind Blair says after the award-winning algae work, Ocanovic contacted him again about researching the viability of making biodiesel from coffee grounds. “Her drive to make sure she thoroughly understood the chemistry, math and science behind the biodiesel reaction was amazing,” Blair tells Biodiesel Magazine. Ocanovic obtained used coffee grounds from a local coffee shop. She used some equipment from her school, the Salt Lake Center for Science Education, but she had to buy a Soxhlet extraction apparatus online. “Tony Butterfield, a professor at the department of
PROFILE chemical engineering at the University of Utah supervised me,” she says. “He allowed me to use his lab for the experiment and he provided me with hexane. I searched online to see if there were any biodiesel experts to help me test my coffee biodiesel samples. I then found Washakie Renewable Energy. Brian Mattingly, the plant manager, and his workers were so nice. I cannot express how much help and support I received from them. Also, Eddie Hall was very nice, he was the person who turned on the QTA for me to use.” She says the QTA equipment was easy to use and gave her results in less than two minutes. “It was amazing how the machine needed just one drop of my sample to give me so much information,” she says. Hall with Eurofins QTA says the 10 MMgy Washakie Renewable Energy plant in Plymouth, Utah, uses QTA for process quality control. “Brian Mattingly had asked if Zerina could use QTA for her process,” Hall says. “We were excited to support Zerina’s efforts. She used the QTA to test the oil extracted from the coffee grounds and then her finished product after converting the oil to biodiesel. It is very exciting to see Zerina’s initiative. We at QTA
believe that she has a very bright future.” The coffee project was not without its challenges. “I kept researching, and I kept failing in my attempts to make oil, but I did not give up,” Ocanovic says. “I just believed in my research. Every time I failed, I just pushed myself more. Some nights I stayed up until 2 or 3 a.m. in my kitchen experimenting and trying different stuff until I figured it out. I felt that both my projects were challenging. However, with both projects, I felt that there were people willing to help me. That made a difference. They all went beyond what I expected from them. Furthermore, I want to mention that Graydon Blair from Utah Biodiesel Supply was also a mentor. He has actually been mentoring me since my first project that involved biodiesel.” “Together we tested the oil and made a couple mini batches of biodiesel,” Blair says, “but she didn't just rely on the work she did with me. Instead, she duplicated all the work again to make sure she had a thorough understanding of how everything worked and operated, and then had everything reanalyzed.” He continues, saying, “If Zerina is any indication
of what our future scientists and biodiesel researchers are going to be like, then I'm really excited for the future,” Blair says. “She truly has been a great example of what can be done when you put your mind to looking for new ways to solve our energy problems. The fact that her latest research was based on biodiesel from used coffee grounds is the icing on the cake!” Mattingly says, “Zerina is a very talented young student. I was impressed by her professionalism and by her knowledge of biodiesel.” When asked how she finds time for all of this intense research and competition, Ocanovic says, “It’s very hard actually. I’m a sophomore. High school in general is stressful, but I always choose to push myself out of my comfort zone. Doing science fairs was never mandatory for me. I always chose to do it on my own time. My main goal was to express my passion for of our environment.” Author: Ron Kotrba Editor, Biodiesel Magazine 218-745-8347 email@example.com
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The New World of Biodiesel Feedstocks Pricing trends and where additional supply will come from BY NATE BURK
The biodiesel industry is booming and currently there are no signs of it slowing down. Through efforts put forward by the National Biodiesel Board and biodiesel producers, the U.S. is on tap to produce the largest volume of biodiesel gallons in 2013 than any other year. Last year the renewable fuel standard (RFS2) mandate called for 1 billion gallons to be blended, which was a 20 percent increase over the prior year. EMTS data reported 1.143 billion gallons were actually blended, which is 14.3 percent more than RFS2 called for. This year the current RFS2 mandate sits at 1.28 billion gallons, a 28 percent increase over last year’s mandate and a 10.7 percent increase over last years blended gallons. Nonetheless, all signs point to 2013 being the largest production year in biodiesel that we have ever seen. So what does this mean for feedstock prices? The commodity complex has become much more volatile in the past 10 years than ever before. Keep in mind this is the time frame in which the biodiesel industry was “born and raised.” We have observed a paradigm shift in pricing for not only the exchange-traded commodities, but also in the nonexchange-traded commodities, which include the majority of biodiesel feedstocks. These price swings have become significant and added complexity to the profitability/sustainability of many biodiesel plants. What does this exactly mean, and how can one manage the price swings? Let’s begin with the largest feedstock consumed by the biodiesel industry, which happens to be exchange-traded as well: soybean oil. With very few exceptions, soybean
oil had traded in a 20-cent range between 1975 through 2006 (15 to 35 cents/lb). In 2007, soybean oil rallied 20 cents and closed just below the 50-cent mark. It then rallied yet another 20 cents in just the first three months of 2008. Many traders were asking themselves just how much higher this market could go; but then the second half of 2008 rolled around. Soybean oil gave up over 35 cents/lb in just the latter half of 2008. Within the next two years (2009‘10), soybean oil had regained 30 cents/lb of these losses. Why the extreme shift in volatility? Many tie the growth in Asia, specifically China, increased speculation in futures and options trading on commodities, and the increased production of biofuels to the recent rise in volatility. Let’s concentrate on
the rise in biofuels, and more specifically diesel, over the past eight years. Since 2005, we have increased biomass-based diesel production by more than 18-fold in the U.S. We now have plants online that could singlehandedly match 2005’s total annual production of 60 million gallons in less than six months. Another way to look at it is that we have added 8.5 billion pounds of demand to the vegetable oil, fats and grease markets in the U.S. This represents more than 29 percent of the total U.S. production of soybean oil, fats and greases today. Throwing all other market drivers out of the equation, the simple addition of this demand pull from the biodiesel industry has helped give push to a paradigm shift in vegetable oil, fats and grease prices. Prior to the inception of biodiesel,
The claims and statements made in this article belong exclusively to the author(s) and do not necessarily refl ect the views of Biodiesel Magazine or its advertisers. All questions pertaining to this article should be directed to the author(s).
MAY | JUNE 2013
fats and greases were viewed as more of a byproduct than anything, and more often than not were a cost center to companies that produced these products. It was not that long ago when restaurants actually paid to have their used cooking oil (UCO) picked up and “disposed” of. Now these restaurants have competition from aggregators to not only collect their UCO, but also to get paid for the collection. The same thing is happening in the fats market. One of the clients I trade with recalls when he purchased 100 trucks of poultry fat for 4 cents/lb back in 2004. This is equivalent to, if not less than, the cost it would have taken to produce/render this fat. Those days are over now, and these products have been labeled “liquid gold” by many in the industry. With the inception of biodiesel, these products are now substitutes for vegetable oils in the production of biodiesel. In the early days of biodiesel, the technology for the most part only allowed for vegetable oils to be processed into biodiesel. Now secondgeneration technologies allow for plants to have the capability to produce 100 percent of their volume out of fats and greases. That said, fats and grease prices have begun to narrow the discount they trade to soybean oil and it becomes a game of efficiencies. For instance, soybean oil at 50 cents/lb with a 7.35 lbs/gallon efficiency = $3.675/
gallon. If this same plant assumes an efficiency of 8.1 lbs/gallon for UCO, then they could back into what they could pay on an equivalent for soybean oil by taking $3.675/8.1 = 45 cents/lb. That said, some plants also have to take into account other efficiencies such as reduced run rates, discounts on the finished feedstock and additional catalyst needed to react the material. Once a plant can understand what these other efficiencies are on a per-gallon basis, it can simply subtract this number from the 45 cents/lb. This then lets a plant know what a better buy is. Let’s assume a plant calculated its other costs of efficiencies at 3 cents/lb when running UCO as compared to soybean oil. This would tell the plant anytime they can buy UCO at 42 cents/lb or better that running UCO is more profitable than running 50 cent/lb soybean oil. As mentioned above, fats and greases have begun to follow the price fluctuation of the soybean oil market closer than ever before. So where are prices going? This question highly revolves around the production of the soybean crop, and further, how many soybeans will be crushed for the production of soybean meal and soybean oil. Prices in the coming year will be highly dependent on the current growing season. We are coming off a very tight supply-anddemand table for soybeans and are project-
ed to plant one of the largest crops to help replenish stocks. With a normal growing season we could see soybeans and soybean product prices fall considerably, which leads fats and greases. If the weather does not cooperate and production of soybeans comes in below current expectations, we could see prices hold, if not rise. The demand for soybean oil also plays an important role in the prices for biodiesel feedstock. Soybean oil going into biodiesel now makes up just shy of 25 percent of the total soybean oil demand. It is interesting to note that the RFS2 calls for a 28 percent increase in biomass-based biodiesel while the USDA is only calling for less than a 1 percent increase in biodiesel demand for soybean oil between the 2011-‘12 and 2012-‘13 crop years (soybean oil crop year runs from October to September of the following year). It is much more complicated to produce more fats and greases, therefore the increased demand for biodiesel feedstocks in the coming years will most likely have to be met with vegetable oils.
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Author: Nate Burk Risk Management Consultant, FCStone LLC 800-422-3087 ext. 17419 Nate.email@example.com
German Biodiesel Quality: 2012 AGQM Survey Germany‘s biodiesel quality measures favorably against DIN EN 14214 and AGQM’s more stringent limitations on total contamination and water BY JUERGEN FISCHER
Since its founding in 1999, AGQM, the German Quality Management Association for Biodiesel, has striven for constant improvement in German biodiesel quality. Besides the implementation of an effective and flexible quality management system, one of the most important measures is a frequent biodiesel quality survey of AGQM members. When AGQM started its activities, biodiesel was sold as B100 at public filling stations. Due to changes in German biofuels policy, today biodiesel is used mainly as a blend component for diesel fuel, and the focus of the quality surveys changed from public filling stations to manufacturers and traders. Despite this, biodiesel still is the most important biofuel in Germany. And even though diesel fuel only contains a
7 percent share of fatty acid methyl esters (FAME), the legal implementation of tighter emission regulations also led to increasing requirements for the fuel, reflected by several modifications of EN 14214, the European biodiesel standard, since its first publication in 2003. This standard is part of the European Fuels Quality Directive; in addition, in Germany biodiesel must meet the German Institute for Standardization (DIN) EN 14214 to qualify for the German biofuels quota. AGQM members participating in the quality survey are usually not subject to regular quality checks by the German customs authorities. Today, the results of the AGQM quality survey are a unique database for biodiesel quality. It is not only proof for the efficiency of AGQM’s quality management, but also an indicator for quality trends, giving evidence
of the significant progress biodiesel quality has made in recent years. The frequent sampling and analysis of biodiesel is part of AGQM’s quality management program. It is conducted six times a year by an independent surveyor. Samples are taken without advance notice at loading and storage facilities and are analyzed by an independent laboratory that must be accredited for biodiesel analytics to participate in the annual ring test of AGQM and the Mineral Oil and Fuels Standardization Committee within DIN (DIN FAM). For the analysis, the test methods cited in the current version of EN 14214 are used. The only exception is the total contamination: due to analytical deficits of EN 12662:2008 the 1998 edition was chosen for the determination of this parameter. The test results are each compared to
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MAY | JUNE 2013
the requirements of DIN EN 14214 with respect to the seasonal limit values for cold properties. In some cases, the more stringent AGQM limits also apply, however, the tolerance range of the test method is considered in case of borderline results since only single measurements are conducted. The parameters chosen for the quality survey are the most relevant for the quality of biodiesel. Some of them can be adjusted by process conditions (e.g., CFPP, ester content, metal content), others are related to the feedstock (linolenic acid content, cloud point, density) and indicate the variety of oils and fats used for FAME production in Germany. On the other hand, parameters that are usually not known as problematic (i.e., cetane number, ash content and carbon residue) are not included in the test program. The assessment of the quality is made by comparing the test results of each sample with the limit values set by the fuel standard, by legislation and/or by AGQM’s quality management (QM) system. This comparison needs to be adjusted to the current requirements, thus complicating the situation in Germany. While the new version of DIN EN 14214 was published in November 2012, the German legislation still refers to the “old” standard until the legislation is changed accordingly. AGQM, however, decided to implement the new standard immediately into its QM system, making this the basis for the quality check. Furthermore, seasonal requirements have to be taken into account. CFPP and cloud point limits change with the season and have to be adjusted accordingly by the FAME manufacturers. In total, 132 samples were taken in six campaigns in 2012. The FAMEs were analyzed on a set of 14 parameters: ester content, density (15 degrees Centigrade), sulfur content, water content, total contamination, oxidation stability (110 C), acid number, iodine value, glycerol/glycerides, alkaline content (Na + K), earth alkaline content (Ca + Mg), phosphorus content, linolenic acid content and CFPP. For the November/Decem-
ber campaign, the cloud point was added to the list in order to address the most recent changes of EN 14214. Regarding the precision of the test methods, the so-called limits of rejection are considered for distinguishing between off-spec and on-spec samples. The overall result of the survey is excellent. Only five limit violations are found in four samples out of 132, compared to the requirements of DIN EN 14214 (Figure 1). In comparison to the more stringent limit AGQM has set for total contamination and water content, a few more critical samples were identified (Figure 2). Oxidation stability (note the “2” in Figure 1), CFPP, total contamination and ester content are critical parameters linked to the production process. In all cases, corrective measures were taken immediately to improve the biodiesel quality. It’s important to note that, in this case, more than 96 percent of all tested samples fulfilled all requirements. Only one sample showed a deviation in more than one parameter. In summary, AGQM’s quality management system includes a frequent check of the quality of its members as one of its most important aspects. This measure serves, on the one hand, as a control instrument and, on the other, as support for the internal quality control of the members. At the same time, the data collected during AGQM’s 13-year history are, worldwide, a unique database on the development of biodiesel quality, reflecting also constant improvement and optimization of production processes. In 2012, more than 98 percent of the samples fulfilled all requirements of DIN EN 14214. Only five out of approximately 1,900 single results deviated from the standard requirement. In all cases, the root cause of the issue could be identified and corrective measures were initiated to solve the problem. The 2012 biodiesel quality survey impressively demonstrates again the use of such a custom-made quality management system. Author: Juergen Fischer Chairman of the Board, AGQM firstname.lastname@example.org
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BIODIESEL MARKETPLACE Associations/Organizations
California Biodiesel Alliance 415-380-1410 www.californiabiodieselalliance.org
French Oil Mill Machinery Company 937-773-3420 www.frenchoil.com/biodieselmag.shtml
AP Fabrications 870-673-8504
Midland Scientific Inc. 800-642-5263
IMA of Kansas, Inc. 316-266-6290
Lender Representatives BBI Consulting Services 866-746-8385 www.bbiinternational.com www.midlandsci.com
Legal Services Attorneys
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP 202-824-1444 www.kilpatricktownsend.com
BBI Consulting Services 866-746-8385 www.bbiinternational.com
National Grease Recycling 813-752-9535 email@example.com
BBI Consulting Services 866-746-8385 www.bbiinternational.com
Lee Enterprises Consulting, INC 501-833-8511 www.lee-enterprises.com
Quality Assurance SGS Group 41-0-22-739-91-11
Employment Recruiting SearchPath of Chicago 815-261-4403, x100 www.searchpathofchicago.com Strategic Resources 425-688-1151x.102
Engineering Process Design Agri Process Innovations 870-673-4030 www.apinnovations.com BBI Consulting Services 866-746-8385 www.bbiinternational.com
Pressure & Temperature Davis Instruments 800-358-5525
Equipment & Services
Recycled Fats & Oils
Conditioning Systems AXI Fuel Conditioning 239-690-9589 www.axifuelconditioning.com
Expellers French Oil Mill Machinery Company 937-773-3420 www.frenchoil.com/biodieselmag.shtml
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www.davis.com Green Fuels America 775-336-6193 www.greenfuelsamerica.com JatroDiesel Inc. 937-847-8050
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