Biodiesel consultant gives advice for would-be producers at CBC

By Ron Kotrba | August 20, 2014

Consultant Rudy Pruszko has trained more than 500 people in the U.S. and 22 other countries through biodiesel workshops and a textbook, “Building a Successful Biodiesel Business,” that he co-wrote. Pruszko spoke at the 2014 Collective Biodiesel Conference Aug. 14-17 and gave advice for those seeking entryway into biodiesel production.  

Pruszko said questions to ask when starting a biodiesel business include what technologies to use; where to get feedstock and at what cost; what to do with the biodiesel and coproducts produced; and can the products be made safely and in an environmentally friendly manner at a profit.

He offered problem-solving tips for new and would-be biodiesel producers. First and foremost, Pruszko said it’s imperative to understand what goes into the process must also come out. He advised running mass balances and making test batches in the lab. Pruszko also encouraged making fuel wrong in the lab to better understand how to correct for errors in the future. He noted that visual appearance of the fuel is the first check of quality.

“Know the affects of temperature on your product, process and reactions,” Pruszko told CBC attendees. He added that temperature and water are “tricky” variables to work out.

When speaking with technology providers, Pruszko said a key question to ask them is, “What does your process do that I can’t get with other technologies?”

Understand the processes and equipment being used, he suggested, and minimize water content in process because soap production is difficult to remove. Sample and test frequently when troubleshooting, he advised.

To conclude his presentation, Pruszko’s final pieces of advice were that details matter, feedstock preparation is important and everything in the process is inter-related. “Know your markets and your customer,” he said, adding to “do what’s best for this industry.”

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