National Biodiesel Day observed; Rachel Burton joins Marc-IV

By Ron Kotrba | March 18, 2013

March 18 is the birthday of Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the compression ignition engine, a date purposely chosen for National Biodiesel Day to honor biodiesel and its many contributions to the environment, economy and the energy sector.

Diesel ran his early engine models on peanut oil, and he was a visionary for the renewable fuel that would one day be called biodiesel. In a 1912 speech, Diesel said, “The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today, but such oils may become, in the course of time, as important as petroleum and the coal tar products of the present time.”

Biodiesel production topped 1 billion gallons in 2012 for the second consecutive year. With plants in nearly every state in the country, the industry supports more than 64,000 jobs nationwide and recently announced its new 10-year vision: 10 percent of the on-road diesel market by 2022.

Continued growth is expected with the increasing demand for diesel vehicles in the U.S. market. More than 33 light- and medium-duty diesel passenger cars and trucks, as well as heavy-duty diesel models from nearly 20 different brands, will be available in the market this year. According to recent published reports, clean diesel auto sales increased by 24 percent in 2012 over 2011, while the overall U.S. auto market increased by 13.5 percent. The Diesel Technology Forum predicts that diesel vehicle sales will increase to as much as 10 percent of the American market by 2020.

“You don't have to drive a diesel vehicle to feel the impact of diesel as it moves the freight that drives the economy,” said Gary Haer, National Biodiesel Board Chairman. “Clean diesel technology, growing biodiesel production, and more light-duty diesels on the market today are something to celebrate. It means more opportunities for biodiesel, more American jobs, and cleaner air.”

Randy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, said, “With biodiesel, Iowans are leading an agricultural revolution that is making a meaningful difference in our nation’s energy security and helping our economy rebound. We truly are at the forefront of innovative American agriculture driving American energy independence.”  

Iowa’s 12 biodiesel plants produced 184 million gallons of biodiesel in 2012, or about 17 percent of all U.S. biodiesel manufactured last year. In Iowa, biodiesel supports nearly 5,000 jobs in the state, contributed nearly $400 million to the state’s GDP and generated $236.8 million of household income.

Biodiesel also benefits consumers in other ways. A study measuring the impact of the Iowa biodiesel industry on the Iowa agricultural economy found that corn, soybean and livestock producers all benefit from biodiesel production. Demand for vegetable oils reduces soybean meal prices, to the benefit of Iowa’s livestock producers—and that ultimately benefits the consumer at the grocery store.  

Biodiesel boards aren't the only organizations celebrating National Biodiesel Day. Marc-IV (M4), the longtime technical and economic consulting firm supporting the biodiesel industry and the National Biodiesel Board, which is celebrating its own 20-year anniversary, is using National Biodiesel Day to announce its new website,, and new brand image “M4—Discovering the Power of Nature.” M4 has been a major force in the development of the biodiesel industry since 1993, and the firm is playing a key role in the technical, economic, and regulatory efforts to achieve the sweeping new biodiesel industry vision of 4 billion gallons per year of biodiesel use in the U.S. by 2022.

The company is also using National Biodiesel Day to announce the most recent addition to the M4 team, Rachel Burton, a founder of Pittsboro, N.C.-based Piedmont Biofuels. M4 founders Steve Howell and Alan Weber expanded the M4 team several years ago when Rebecca Richardson, previously with the Illinois Soybean Association, joined the M4 team.

“National Biodiesel Day seemed like an appropriate venue to make a big splash about our new web site and image, and our commitment to the future of biodiesel and other biobased products by bringing on a true industry leader and entrepreneur in Ms. Rachel Burton,” said M4 Co-Founder Howell. Burton is no stranger to the biodiesel industry, having been a leading force in Piedmont Biofuels, the first small producer to achieve the coveted BQ-9000 industry quality certification. Over the past two years, she led a U.S. DOE project investigating the use of enzymes in biodiesel production.

“Rachel’s experience and skill set makes her a great fit for M4,” said M4 Co-Founder Weber. “Her deep understanding of technical subject matter in biodiesel and other biobased product applications is the common thread she has with the balance of the M4 team.”  As a new member of the M4 team, Burton will be working on expanding the ASE-accredited NBB Diesel Technician Program she helped to build, as well as working to develop other biobased products and ways to help support U.S. agriculture and the family farm. Weber further commented, “With Rachel on board, M4 is excited to blaze new trails in developing industrial products from agriculture for the next 20 years and beyond. She clearly has a passion for it and feels compelled to improve our environment, consistent with our founding business cornerstones.” 


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