Inspiration Moves Me

In his Editor's Note from the Summer 2018 print issue of Biodiesel Magazine, Editor Ron Kotrba discusses the contents of the latest edition and how the stories came to be.
By Ron Kotrba | August 17, 2018

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is being able to share some of the many inspirational stories that have built, and sustain, this great industry. It brings a vital human element to the machinery, equipment, vehicles, technology and abstract indexes so often associated with the field of biodiesel. There is an abundance of these tales floating in the biodiesel ether, but in this day of social networking and electronic communication, the delicate nuances found only in conversation with one another are often lost to technology. As a result, capturing these fascinating experiences, or even knowing they exist at all, becomes a shot in the dark. The irony is social media and technology are thought to bring people closer together, but in many cases these are doing just the opposite. The even greater irony is the art of communication is being lost as our communications technologies intensify. Many times, a simple face-to-face conversation, or even a discussion on a very old piece of technology—the voice function on a telephone—can provide magnitudes more information than a tweet, post, text or email. Serendipitously, I managed to capture several of those inspirational stories floating in the biodiesel ether for this issue.

What started as an additive piece on page 20, “On the Road Again—Legally,” ended as the latest installment of the biodiesel industry’s overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Just over a year ago it was uncertain whether biodiesel blends above a few percentage points would even be legal in California under the Alternative Diesel Fuels regulation, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2018, requiring NOx-mitigating solutions for biodiesel. No additives to mitigate NOx emissions existed, and it was uncertain whether anyone would develop them. With help from the National Biodiesel Board, which got the ball rolling, we now have several effective and affordable solutions in the California marketplace.

During my routine plant calls to check on statuses of biodiesel manufacturing facilities for our annual printed plant map, I talked with Rick Huszagh, co-founder of Down to Earth Energy doing business as Clean Energy Biofuels, which owns and operates a 2 MMgy plant in Monroe, Georgia. In our talk, he mentioned the chemicals business he and the inventor of the Smarter Starter Fluid, Marcus Smith, were growing at the biodiesel production plant in Georgia. After additional conversations with Smith and Huszagh, the story on page 22, “Biodiesel Firestarter,” came to be. The account proves to me the American Dream is still alive and well. Check it out and see for yourself.

On page 26, Jamie O’Brien, founder of Universal Green Commodities, provides his own inspiring story in “A Decade Deep—Positioned, Poised & Prospering.” With only a high school education but possessing  worldly experience many will never see, O’Brien left the rat race of the corporate world to venture out on his own. Facing setbacks, learning curves and interesting people along the way, he managed to not only survive in the cutthroat world of biodiesel, but thrive.

In the pages that follow, we hope you find the stories we share with you as informative and inspirational as I found them. As Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead sang in the 1970s song Terrapin Station, “Inspiration, move me brightly.” We all require inspiration now and again. The inspiration you need, or can give, may be just a conversation away.

Author: Ron Kotrba
Biodiesel Magazine

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