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Biodiesel seminar held at world's premier ethanol event

By | July 01, 2004
For the second consecutive year, the world's largest ethanol industry event incorporated a seminar on the other renewable fuel-biodiesel. Once again, the event proved that industry crossover is not uncommon in the renewable fuels business.

The second annual Biodiesel 101 pre-workshop seminar, hosted by Biodiesel Magazine, was held June 22 at the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop and Trade Show in Madison, Wis. Seven panelists discussed biodiesel industry basics (production, legislation, fuel quality, project development, etc.) in front of nearly 90 participants.

Charles Hatcher, regulatory director of the National Biodiesel Board provided an overview of the U.S. biodiesel industry, including details on various legislative bills aimed at growing U.S. biodiesel production and use.

BBI International's Brian Duff, a biochemical process engineer, discussed the basics of biodiesel production, including the chemical make up of the renewable fuel.

Myron Danzer, sales and production manager of Renewable Energy Group, gave an overview of large-scale production, providing details on continuous turnkey process design.

Topia Energy President Govindh Jayaraman discussed modular unit biodiesel production. He said scalability is the strength of modular designs, since additional modules can be brought on line quickly.

"The blueprint you start with isn't necessarily the blueprint you have to stay with for any period of time," Jayaraman said.
Three seminar panelists discussed project development. Brian Guerrero, an attorney with Minneapolis law firm Lindquist and Vennum, spoke about developing a business plan, including information needed for a risk analysis. In the same session, Duff returned to talk about the importance of a feasibility analysis and site selection.

Denny DeVos, senior vice president of AgCountry Farm Credit Services, spoke about securing financing for a project.
"In a fledgling industry like the biodiesel industry, the biggest focus of a lending group is risk management programs," DeVos said, adding that it is important for project developers to build within their means. "If you have limited working capital, you are at the mercy of others for what you can do day to day."

Ralph Groschen, senior agriculture marketing specialist with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, talked about the success of the Minnesota Biodiesel Task Force. He noted that the biodiesel industry is similar to the ethanol industry in that it faces many of the same critics ethanol faced during its infancy.

Hatcher and Jayaraman then discussed two fuel quality programs impacting the industry. BQ9000 and Certified: BioDiesel Driven are being implemented to ensure biodiesel meets ASTM 6751 standards. The objective is to assure that biodiesel fuel is produced and maintained according to industry standards. In turn, both said, consumer confidence in biodiesel will grow.

Jayaraman likened biodiesel use to dispelling the "flat tire" syndrome in which a new user will blame an unrelated problem on biodiesel. The panel agreed that overcoming such challenges could be achieved, in part, by learning from the success and failures of the U.S. ethanol industry.

"You can always do something twice as fast the second time around," DeVos said. "This industry will be able to benefit from the ethanol industry."
 

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