Minnesota biodiesel essay scholarship winners announced

By Ron Kotrba | September 27, 2017

First- and second-place winners have been announced for the 2017 Clean Air Choice Biodiesel Essay Scholarship, sponsored by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council and administered by the American Lung Association in Minnesota.

Kaci Gwilt of Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, is the contest’s first-place winner. Gwilt, a graduate of Blooming Prairie High School where she was a remarkable basketball player, is studying chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota. She received a $1,000 check for her winning essay, which recounted her experiences on her grandparents’ farm in southern Minnesota. Gwilt’s grandfather, a soybean farmer and biodiesel user, explained to her how soybeans from their farm were processed into food, fiber and fuel for the farm’s diesel engines.

Abigail Brockhouse is the second-place winner. Brockhouse, a 2017 graduate of Greenbush-Middle River High School in Northwest Minnesota, was a member of the high school student council and is currently a freshman at the University of North Dakota, majoring in athletic training. Brockhouse plans to attend medical school for physical therapy. She received a check for $500 for her essay, which provided an overview of the benefits of biodiesel, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, lessening our dependence on imported petroleum and creating new jobs in Minnesota.

“The role of the biodiesel industry is not [to] immediately to replace petroleum diesel, but to help create a balanced energy policy while benefiting the environment and the economy,” Brockhouse wrote. “Biodiesel is one of several alternative fuels designed to extend our energy mix, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce domestic fuel supplies and jobs.”

Brockhouse began her essay explaining how, in the late 1800s, Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the compression-ignition engine that bears his name, used vegetable oil to fuel his invention. After explaining the benefits of biodiesel, Brockhouse concluded by writing, “Now, 125 years later, we are just beginning to take Rudolf Diesel’s lead and produce and use renewable biodiesel on an industrial scale. Significant health, environment, energy and economic benefits result from producing and using biodiesel. I notice these benefits everyday living in Northwest Minnesota. Our local farmers produce soybeans, sunflowers, and other oilseed crops, that are used to create biodiesel. While, in turn, these same farmers and other diesel fuel users consume a blend of biodiesel in their equipment.”

“I was so excited to find out I won this scholarship essay,” Brockhouse told Biodiesel Magazine. “I've had previous knowledge of the biodiesel industry through my father, who is employed at BBI International, but after researching for this essay, I was amazed at all of the progress the industry has made.”

Brockhouse is the daughter of Howard Brockhouse, business development director for BBI International, the publisher of Biodiesel Magazine.

“It's a great honor to be from Minnesota, knowing that it supports the biodiesel industry, and I’m excited for the future that biodiesel brings,” she said.

Minnesota was the first state in the nation to require biodiesel blends in virtually all of the diesel fuel sold in the state. Next year Minnesota will require a 20 percent blend in the warm-weather months, moving to a 5 percent blend in the winter.


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