Promethean: recapturing sustainability, community from 'Zeus'

A recap of the Collective Biofuels Conference
By Ron Kotrba | August 22, 2012

I attended the Collective Biofuels Conference in Temecula, Calif., this past weekend, hosted by Promethean Biofuels. During one of the sessions, Dan Freeman, of Dr. Dan’s Biodiesel, said he was there to reinvigorate his passion for biodiesel. Well said, Dan, I know the event accomplished this for me.

If you haven’t attended before, the show is a curious mix of some of the greatest recognized minds in biodiesel, such as Gary Knothe of USDA-ARS-NCAUR and Jon Van Gerpen of University of Idaho, and innovative small producers and grease collectors—maybe some of the greatest “unrecognized” minds in the sector.

I want to personally thank Todd Hill, Roy Krebs and everyone else from Promethean Biofuels for all of their hard work and dedication in putting the conference together this year. Todd’s expertise and self-described transparency is a refreshing mix of character attributes that I know will take him and his company very far in this industry.

The plant tour of Promethean Biofuels, a biodiesel refinery scaled at 2 to 3 MMgy based in Temecula, Calif., was of great interest to me and all who attended. Promethean exemplifies the sustainable, flexible and innovative nature of this industry. Pallets and pallets of expired palm-based margarine, just one of the many feedstocks used at the plant, lined the perimeter of the facility. What a great use of an expired food product no longer fit for human consumption—turning it into green fuels like biodiesel.

Todd said his goal for Promethean Biofuels is to create a vertically integrated specialty biobased chemicals and biodiesel company, and to create a template that is reproducible. 

In Greek mythology, when Zeus hid fire from man, Prometheus was the one who brought it back to earth and mankind. One could liken Zeus to Big Oil who has hidden sustainability and community from the energy sector and its consumers, and Promethean Biofuels is bringing it back. I found it pretty cool that Todd has named all of his processing equipment after Greek mythology. His primary reactor is named Psiclops. His centrifuge is named Athena. Then there’s Poseidon, Castor, Pollux, Cerberus, Styx, Calypso and Atlas.

Todd, thank you for a great and enlightening show—and for bringing sustainability and community back to us all. 



6 Responses

  1. Roman



    Ron; Did you find Epimetheus in the plant? Probably not. But I do agree with you that the myth is quite telling, since Zeus punished Prometheus by having an eagle (the symbol for Zeus and the US government) eat Prometheus liver every day, while having it grow back at night (where the liver represents the tax credit...). At some point, Hercules (the Ethanol Industry pushing for RFS-2 and adding a cheap feedstock with DDG oil, strong among mortals, but not a full God) came to rescue Prometheus. I am sure that given a little more time we could come up with something smart to say about the Ethanol Industry saving Prometheus liver...Sorry I missed the conference, sounds interesting

  2. Ron Kotrba



    Thanks for adding your thoughts to the allegory, Roman, you would have enjoyed the event I bet. I will look forward to seeing you again in your home town of Houston for the National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo this fall.

  3. MIKE




  4. Chris Pine



    Mike, You missed the boat entirely. The stuff being converted into biodiesel and other useful "specialty bio-based chemicals" is NO LONGER FOOD. It is either expended (inedible by the consumer) margarine, or waste cooking oil, which are being kept from being dumped into the environment! The whole point of this conference was that we are not looking to displace food crops for fuel — we're using part of the waste stream from food production, to gain efficiency. You know — "reduce, reuse, recycle"....

  5. MIKE



    coming from temecula to south orange county to underbid a local sevice provider means burning alot of extra fuel ..... hmmm? not being licensed for that service ? are all you guys trucks CARB COMPLIANT? EVEN THE OLD ONES ON YOUR WEBSITE?

  6. mike



    1986-1987 = 3-4 cents per lb..... ive seen a few cycles of this remember, price elasticity


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