We’re a couple months late on this, but hey, late is better than never.
This conference, held yearly, has been traveling from site to site for the past 3 years and seems to be getting better and better each year. This year was no exception. Nothing but awesome presentations, incredible food (holy cow it was good!), and some the absolute best company you could ask for from the biodiesel community!
As always, we had a chance to rub shoulders with many of our customers and absolutely loved it! Here’s some of the presentations we thought really stood out!
Evie Sobczak – Algae to Oil Via Photoautotrophic Cultivation and Osmotic Sonication
Evie is a 16 year old from Florida that presented on her totally awesome science fair project that involved growing algae for the sole purpose of making biofuel from it. The presentation was incredible and was given to a packed room! It included several loud sessions of audience clapping as she discussed the incredible hurdles she’d overcome while growing algae. She also rattle off more technical terms about the project than any of us could understand; it was truly mind boggling.
It was by far one of the most well attended presentations and one of the coolest ones we saw the whole time!
Rachel Burton – Mark IV / Piedmont Biofuels / Goddess of Biodiesel presented on Making Biodiesel With Enzyme Catalysts
Over the last few years, Rachel did a research study an Piedmont on the best practices for enzymatic biodiesel production. Through the research she identified what worked and what didn’t and presented at the conference on some of the successes and failures they experienced while using this cutting edge biodiesel catalyst. She also taught us how a small scale biodiesel producer could make biodiesel using a simple BioPro and doing some modifications to make it work well.
She brought along some awesome samples of the catalyst for us to look at too! They were really popular with everyone there! Very cool stuff!
Atul Deshmane from Whole Energy presentation was titled A Brave New World For Distribution and was all about the tax incentives, RINS, and other incentive programs available to small scale commercial biodiesel producers.
I found this presentation incredibly fascinating! Atul covered each incentive with a general overview and then gave personal background stories about each one. I’ve know about the incentives for years, but for the first time it finally all made sense! I loved it! If you’re at all interested in the incentives a small scale biodiesel producer can use to benefit their operation, then take the time to watch his presentation. You’ll love it!
Rudy Pruszko, who is an expert on commercial biodiesel production and also one of the instructors from the awesome Iowa State Biodiesel Production Workshop that I attended several years back (some of THE BEST education on commercial biodiesel production ever offered), presented two incredible presentations on producing biodiesel.
His first presentation was titled Solutions To Your Biodiesel Production Problems and was all about solving production problems such as dealing with unreacted batches, washing biodiesel effectively, tank sizing, etc. Nothing but the good stuff!
If you produce biodiesel; whether on a small, private scale or at a large commercial facility, you’ll love this presentation!
His second presentation was somewhat similar to the first but with a different tone. Titled Strategies For Small Scale Biodiesel Plants, it focused more on the day to day operations of running a plant, sizing a commercial plant appropriately, and operational issues in regards to regulations, safety, and other important production considerations.
Rudy’s no-nonsense approach to presenting information is awesome! He’s also the publisher of one of the best books on starting a Biodiesel Business there is! We like it so much that we now stock it & offer it for sale on our website. If you’re at all considering going commerical, be sure to check it out!
Next up on our list was the awesome presentation given by Link Shumaker! His presentation was titled Technical Discussion of Community Scale Production
Holy cow! This guy is awesome! He’s been doing commercial biodiesel for years and used to be the head brew master of biodiesel production at Piedmont Biofuels a while back. The guy is awesome! He covered all sorts of topics in his presentation and is even working on putting together a project to help disseminate even more information to help commercial brewers be better at their craft!
Check out his awesome presentation below!
Next on our list is Sam Parker, current biodiesel brew master at Piedmont and all around biodiesel rockstar!
His presentation titled Quality Testing For Small Scale Biodiesel was really cool! It focused on which tests are important for small scale producers to do themselves, which one’s are better left to a commercial biodiesel testing lab, and what alternative tests can accomplish the same thing as those laid out in the ASTM D6751 biodiesel testing standard
One of the highlights of these conferences is the presentation given by Dr. Jonathan Meuser! He’s one of the original founders of the conference and in the past has always spoken on the progress of Algae based biodiesel. However, this year he spoke on renewable diesel, an alternative to biodiesel that’s being brought to market that shows great promise.
His presentation was titled Renewable Diesel: Relevance To The Biodiesel Community and was really insightful on what may soon be coming on the horizon.
Every year at the conference, there’s always some really awesome case study’s presented by those in the trenches on whats working and what’s not. This year was no exception. Two really cool case study’s that I really though were cool were the ones by David Frank and by Woodrow Eaton.
David Frank is a graduate student from the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology (say that 5 times fast!).
He’s been heading up a project on making biodiesel from the kitchen grease at the institute for a fleet of diesel powered vans. We were really impressed by what they’re doing and were really excited to see them using a BioPro 190 Automated Biodiesel Processor and a Spring Pro T76 Dry Wash Tower
Check out all the exciting things they’re doing!
Woodrow Eaton, from Blue Ridge Biofuels, also presented an incredible case study on what they’re doing.
They’ve taken a slightly different approach with their oil feedstock. They’ve partnered with local farmers to grow feedstock and crush it into oil. Blue Ridge then buys and resells the oil to local restaurants on a sort of lease-type program. The oil gets sold to them for a reduced price on the understanding that they get all of it back when their done with it. This benefits the restaurant by giving them access to inexpensive oil for their fryers and also benefits Blue Ridge Biofuels in giving them a consistent source of feedstock to make their commercial biodiesel.
Check out their whole story below!
Every year we attend the conference, we get invited to do a basic Biodiesel 101 workshop and this year was no different!
I covered the basic chemistry behind producing a batch of biodiesel, went over some of the basic tests that can be performed to see if you’ve made a successful batch, and even produced a small batch of biodiesel right in the workshop!
Check out our workshop below!
After the conference concluded, we had a chance to attend the annual conference bonfire and dinner.
The food was made right on site by an incredible gourmet chef! It was really, really good and we all had a great time chowing down & chatting with each other!
The event was held at Summit Greasecycling’s main facility where they also offered free tours to see how the grease is collected.
Summit Greasecycling also makes soap at the same facility using the oil they collect as the main ingredient.
We had a chance to tour the soap making operation as well and see all the incredible soaps they’re producing!
After the tours, the day faded into night and we all had a chance to kick back and get to know each other while a local band played music to keep us all entertained.
After things had been going for a while, John Bush and Jeff Rola came up & grabbed the spotlight & treated us to several songs from their incredible repertoire!
Both of these guys are incredible musicians and both have played professionally on and off for several years. Talk about an awesome treat!
As has always been the case, the parking lot was loaded with diesels from all over the US; which is always an awesome site to see! Being a diesel nut myself, I was in biodiesel heaven all evening long!
One cool sidenote. While there, I was introduced to an amazing bonfire “smore”. You take a banana, split it open, place it in a piece of tinfoil, sprinkle in chocolate chips, coconut, maybe some carmel, and whatever else you care to add. Then, fold it up & put it in the fire for a while and let it all cook. Once it’s done, the result is amazing! Definitely a new favorite bonfire delicacy!
Jason Burroughs here of DieselGreen fuels is displaying one.
If you’ve never been to one of these conferences, you really should plan to come!
They’re held all across the United States (and once even in Canada) and are just a heck of a lot of fun! Every time we go we have an absolute blast plus we come away with lots of great information gained from all the awesome presentations!
The conference for 2014 will be held Aug. 14th-17th, 2013 in Pittsboro, NC. It’s being hosted by Piedmont Biofuels and is sure to be an awesome time! Check out the conference website here for details:
Also, if you’d like to see all the presentations from this years conference (as well as past years too), be sure to check out the conference archive website!
We’re planning on being there next year & hope to see many of you there as well!