Alternative Feedstocks Remain in Spotlight

By Jessica Sobolik | September 16, 2008
The topic of alternative biodiesel feedstocks keeps coming up in our magazine and on our Web site. That's to be expected, though, as we at Biodiesel Magazine can tell that our readers are looking for as much information on this subject as they can get their hands on.

Already, some of our August features that focused on alternative feedstocks are among our most popular to date. This includes Staff Writer Jerry W. Kram's feature, "From Fish Farm to Fuel," detailing algae production, which is the No. 6 most-read article since we started the magazine. Staff Writer Kris Bevill's feature, "Grease: Worth Its Weight in Gold?" is No. 18, followed by a Web exclusive written by Kram, detailing a presentation made by Origin Oil Inc. at the National Algae Association Business Plan Forum.

In this issue, we've included information about Renewable Energy Group Inc.'s recent algae announcement: the availability of scalable commercialization technology for algae-based biodiesel (see Kram's Industry News story on page 18, which includes a roundup of other algae projects, as well). Although REG says it's not getting involved in actual commercial-scale algae production, it is seeking to partner with these algae producers to make its technology feasible for biodiesel plants seeking alternative feedstocks. Because of this development, we may see algae-to-biodiesel production sooner than we originally thought. Kram also wrote a Web exclusive on REG's project. Check out the September issue on our Web site for additional information.

In this issue, Staff Writer Susanne Retka Schill details another unique feedstock: wastewater (see "Making the Best of Wastewater" on page 78). Two Mississippi State University researchers are extracting oil from microorganisms found in wastewater at treatment facilities, a feedstock they say has the potential to produce a whopping 10 billion gallons of biodiesel per year. Retka Schill compares this feedstock to algae, and includes information about a similar research project at Mississippi State involving shrimp waste.
Looking ahead, our November issue's theme is "Biodiesel Feedstock Outlook." So look for staff-written features detailing animal fats, greases, jatropha, algae and camelina, among others.

It seems there is no shortage of alternative biodiesel feedstocks. Yes, some are more viable than others, but it depends on which way you look at it. One feedstock may make the most sense in one area of the country, while another option works best in a different area. That's the great thing about renewable fuels. The possibilities seem endless.

Jessica Sobolik
Managing Editor
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