The conference focus this year was on scaling up to commercial scale and the speakers fit the bill perfectly! The speakers were drawn from a pool of some of the absolute best you can find.
For understanding fuel quality and it’s effects, Jon Van Gerpen and Gerhard Knothe were there and presented some amazing information! Jeff Fetkenhour, owner of Gorge Analytical, a Biodiesel ASTM lab and National Biodiesel Board helpline resource, presentation focused on the complete ASTM standard and why each of the tests are required. Virginia Gordon from Bonanza Labs presented on the really cool Mini-Scan Tester that allows fast & accurate testing of Biodiesel for total glycerin & free fatty acid content. I also presented our recommended home-brew tests that small scale producers can perform to ensure good fuel quality.
Jonathan Meuser, a Biodiesel algae expert, presented the latest research & information on algal biofuels. His summary was that we’re still not there yet, nature hasn’t provided the right strain of algae to achieve the best oil, so it’s time to consider genetically modifying strains of algae to give us what we need.
Don Scott from the National Biodiesel Board presentation focused on how producers could better work together. Susan Olson, from Genscape, gave an awesome presentation on RINS (Renewable Information Numbers) and how we can help RIN buyers gain trust in the fuel we produce and sell. She also gave a great update on what might be coming down the pipe from the EPA in regards to rule changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) in the near future.
Norm McFarling from Nebraska BioPro gave an awesome presentation on Acid Esterification and had a great recent example of someone that had reduced their oil from 25% FFA down to 5% using the Acid Esterification process.
Rod Yawn from ALX Enterprises, an expert at ion exchange use for dry washing Biodiesel, presented on dry washing, how it works, and how Biodiesel producers can benefit from using it properly. He talked about the product they offer called DW-R10 and gave us some insights on why it works and what the realistic expectations for using dry wash resins can be.
Jeff Rola and Dan Stonesifer presentations focused on oil collection and how to do it successfully on a small scale while ramping up to large scale as well.
We also had the opportunity to tour Promethean Biofuels biodiesel production plant and see up close what it takes to make Biodiesel on a large scale. Instead of just looking at the plant from a distance, it was a full on tour. We got to walk right next to the equipment, were told how it worked, why they chose the equipment they did, and what their plans for expansion and growth are.
For me, this conference was a special treat. Particularly because two of my Biodiesel mentors were there & speaking.
Dr. Jon Van Gerpen (the God of Biodiesel as far as I’m concerned), and Gerhard Knothe (the God of Biodiesel Chemistry). Van Gerpen and Knothe did much of the research that commercial Biodiesel in the US is based on. They both were extremely instrumental in the research that went into why we use the tests we do and how the fuel effects diesel engines. In fact, much of the ASTM tests that are in the commercial Biodiesel standard came about because of their research.
They also were extremely influential early on in getting EPA approval for Biodiesel as an alternative fuel to diesel fuel and continue to play a key role. I was like a kid in a candy factory being able to meet both of these giants of Biodiesel again. I’d met them several years ago at a workshop they put on and looked forward to seeing them again & had a great time visiting with both of them.
Another reason I enjoyed the conference so much was that some of the speakers were there at my invitation or recommendation. Jeff Fetkenhour (Gorge Analytical), Norm McFarling (Nebraska BioPro), Rod Yawn (ALX Enterprises) in particular came & spoke because I’d personally invited them. All three of which did an awesome job too!
Overall, the conference was a huge success. I’ve had a hand in planning these conferences now clear back to 2006 and know what goes into putting them on and I can say without any reservation that this was by far the best one we’ve had.
Todd Hill & Roy Krebs went out of their way to make the conference a knock-out. Not only were there great speakers, but the facilities we used (Temecula Creek Inn) and the food and ambiance were awesome!
Apparently, I’m not the only one that thought the conference went well too. The editor from Biodiesel Magazine, Ron Kotrba, was in attendance and upon returning home wrote 5 separate stories about the conference and presentations.
Check out the articles from Biodiesel Magazine.
Promethean: recapturing sustainability, community from ‘Zeus’
Jon Van Gerpen: looking at the biodiesel process in a new way
Small Argentine biodiesel producer addresses market concerns
Assessing the future of US EPA’s biodiesel RIN credit regulation
A value proposition for success in the local grease market
WVO Designs also had great things to say about the conference too!
2012 Collective Biofuels Conference
And even Todd Hill, the conference organizer, shared his thoughts on the success of the first day of the conference.
2012 Collective Biofuels Conference: Day 1
One of the cool things about the Collective Biofuels Conferences is that we archive the presentations every year. Over the years we even started shooting video of most of the conference presentations and make everything available online.
We’re still in the process of getting it all archived, but we’ll be posting it over at the archive website which is at http://www.collectivebiodiesel.org
We have the pictures up and will soon be getting the presentations archived along with the video’s too.
You can check out all the great pictures from the conference here:
Here’s the link to the presentations archive (although as of this writing not all the links are working yet–still working on archiving all the material)
You can also see video & presentations from past years there too!
I’m already looking forward to next years conference and am excited to be able to rub shoulders with some of the best in the Biodiesel business & meet our customers and see old friends. So, until then, keep the brewing going and we hope to see all of you there!