NBB highlights 5 individuals' stories for National Biodiesel Day
Rudolf Diesel couldn’t have imagined how far his vision would have come by 2017. In the U.S., nearly 3 billion gallons of clean, renewable fuel replacing its petroleum counterpart. A thriving and growing diesel vehicle market. And 64,000 jobs supported by biodiesel, many the highest paying jobs in the area.
Diesel, who invented the engine that bears his name, ran early models on peanut oil, and was an ardent believer in vegetable oil-based fuel. That’s why the biodiesel industry honors Diesel by making his birthday, March 18, National Biodiesel Day.
“For National Biodiesel Day, we’re highlighting the people who make this industry great,” said Donnell Rehagen, National Biodiesel Board CEO. “American biodiesel has infused jobs and prosperity in communities throughout the nation. Rudolph Diesel would be proud.”
Here are just five of the impressive stories from the manufacturing sector of America’s advanced biofuel:
1. Lead Technician, Hero BX. Jim Wilwohl serves as a shift foreman, overseeing a four-man crew at biodiesel producer Hero BX in Erie, Pennsylvania. With a capacity of more than 45 MMgy, the plant employs about 50 people. Born and raised in Erie, Wilwohl said the plant has some of the best manufacturing jobs in the area. “I like that my job is part of a green industry,” Wilwohl said. “It’s nice to work in a modern facility, and we have what I consider great pay, benefits and profit sharing.”
2. Owner, Emergent Green Energy. Matthew Jaeger grew up on a Kansas farm, and his brother Luke’s vision of producing fuel for their equipment spurred the beginning of EGE Biodiesel. Based in Minneola, Kansas, EGE is a family agricultural-based business specializing in the delivery of American biodiesel to local and regional customers. With multifeedstock capabilities, the company partners with local farmers, and with restaurants to recycle cooking oil and grease for use in the production of biodiesel. “Our success in producing biodiesel has led us in other directions of business, all connected back to the goal of helping farmers and adding value to what they do for other customers,” said Jaeger.
3. Plant Chemist, Louis Dreyfus Co. Mike Morgan heads special projects, testing method development and validation in the laboratory for the largest fully integrated soybean processing and biodiesel plant in the U.S. Located in Claypool, Indiana, the capacity for biodiesel production is 110 MMgy. Morgan first became passionate about biodiesel while in college at Utah State University, serving as a co-chair of NBB’s Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program. He also used biodiesel he made at USU to set record speeds on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
4. Quality Consultant. Kent Bullard has served as an auditor for BQ-9000, the biodiesel industry’s voluntary quality assurance program, since 2004. With a master’s degree in quality assurance, he has audited 38 producers, marketers and labs. Auditors like Bullard have helped the program become a success; certified producers now account for more than 90 percent of the U.S. biodiesel volume. As a user himself, Bullard is also considered a biodiesel pioneer. While serving as fleet manager at Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Los Angeles, he led one of the first biodiesel programs at a national park, from 2000 until he retired in 2012.
5. General Manager, Western Iowa Energy. An accountant by trade, Brad Wilson spent several years as a financial auditor, mainly auditing grain cooperatives. He became president and general manager of the facility in Wall Lake, Iowa, in 2016. The multifeedstock plant recently grew from 30 to 45 MMgy and employs 30 people, many with young families in the town of about 800 residents. “It’s gratifying to me knowing that we provide green jobs with good pay in a community that benefits greatly from the economic development that brings,” Wilson said. “Our workers in turn support the schools and local housing market, among other things. Our plant also contributes to other businesses in the area, from family farms, to truckers to the railway.”
Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engines without modification. It is the nation’s first domestically produced, commercially available advanced biofuel. NBB is the U.S. trade association representing the entire biodiesel value chain, including producers, feedstock suppliers, and fuel distributors, as well as the U.S. renewable diesel industry.