Hear ye, hear ye!
The Annual Biodiesel Homebrewers Conference has come & gone and it’s time for another review of the conference by that nut out in Utah….so, fasten yer seatbelts & load up the tank with Bio cause here we go.
[warning…this was written while I had a cold, so it has a sort of loopy feel to it…the cold made me do it]
This years Biodiesel Conference theme (once again held at the really cool Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado) could be summed up in a couple sentences.
1) Don’t steal oil. It’s bad, bad, bad (even if other people steal yours).
2) It’s time for Homebrewing to grow up & get with it on the business end (in otherwords, “Folks, the time has come for us to all pay our taxes…or else get shut down”)
3) If ya really wanna brew bio, ya better learn some advanced techniques cause if ya don’t yer gonna make crap.
4) Making Biodiesel in a BioPro is really cool! (I swear the BioPro’s were mentioned in just about every presentation I sat in on….kind of cool to see the things becoming so ubiquitous).
Well, ok, maybe there was a lot more than that going on but there was an awful lot of presentations surrounding those three things. Oh yeah, and lot’s in really cool case studies. REALLY cool case studies.
So, here’s what I learned this year that I thought I’d pass on…
First of all:
If you’ve started a coop, your not alone. If you’re coop has failed. You’re not alone. If your coop is trying to avoid the law by not paying taxes, not registering with the state, not really being legitimate but still kind of taking peoples money for fuel but not really registering with the NBB or the EPA, your not alone.
Lot’s of great stories about coops. My favorite was the one Jerry Robock shared.
“So, uhm, we just kind of have this coop way up in the woods…..” and it went from there. It has all the makings of a back-woods, underground, top-secret moonshiners story. Complete with a box for depositing your cash in when you’ve “taken home some brew”. I LOVED IT!!!!
Then came Lyle Rudensey’s coop story.
“Well, we’re not really legitimate but we make really great fuel in a BioPro!” ….so good in fact that technically they COULD sell the stuff (he passed ASTM with flying colors in his “stainless steel garbage can” as many have endearingly called the BioPro’s (you know–because it takes garbage & turns it into fuel…get it? Oh, never mind).
Lyles ASTM results really are cool though!
Check out how well they aced them!
Lyles ASTM Results
And then it was on to the Chemistry lessons…..
John Bush (one of the conference organizers) gave a great discourse on the upper echelons of the chemical reactions that go on during Biodiesel production
To which a bunch of puzzled looks looked back….
Yep. That chemistry can be kind of confusing sometimes…..
But, alas, then it came time for the clown act….
Some guy from Utah decided he was going to dress up in a smock, throw on some gloves, and then attempt (attempt mind you) to show a class of eager on-lookers how Biodiesel is made….
“OK, so ya got yer little oil molecules here and then these catalyst thugs come in & rip em apart….”
(It was better than the bus story from last year, right?)
Then on came the safety glasses (“Hey, where’d everybody go?”) and my hair went nuts and, well…we’ll let the picture tell the story…
But, somehow I managed to produce a little batch of bio on one of Nebraska BioPro’s cool heat/mag stir plate and ended up even making a couple messes…in the end I think I was able to actually show how Biodiesel could be produced
(Big time thanks to Norm from Nebraska BioPro for bringing all the lab-ware needed for my presentations….it made it a lot easier….of course I still managed to spill some titration solution).
“So what ya got here is your basic trans-esterification going on….any questions?”
Once we got through the circus act, on to the real fun.
One of the presenters, Brad Crafton (who also makes Bio in a BioPro–sorry, had to throw that in there) from the Mississippi Minerals Research Institute presented his cool story about how they make Biodiesel to run in their mowers on campus and how cool the project has been.
[Lame sidenote:] Brad Crafton just about became the prowd owner of my old Isuzu Diesel Pickup once upon a time…but his Diesel Mercedes that he was going to swap me for it had other plans…namely the fuel injection pump completely dying out in the middle of nowhere. [/sidenote done..see? told ya it was lame]
Anyway, some of the stuff Brad is doing in Mississippi is just plain cool!
One of the biggest lectures that was really well attended was on Algae Biodiesel (go figure!)….
That little room was PACKED!!!!
Unfortunately I was also giving my presentation at the time so I didn’t have a chance to sit in but I heard it was really cool!!!
Speaking of BioPro’s……
This year we had the pleasure of having the new CEO of Springboard Biodiesel (the guy’s that now make the BioPro. It was AGR last year & SSI the year before that. Can you say “Musical BioPro Chairs”?) Anyway, his presentation was also really good and talked about where the industry might be headed…
And then there was some of the fun….
I guess some of us old die-hard Biodiesel nuts just never change.
Rules For Being A Die-Hard Biodiesel Nut:
Rule #1: You must wear a Biodiesel related shirt
Rule #2: You will most likely present at the conference
Rule #3: If you do well, you’ll probably present again….if we can wrangle you into doing so….
The shirt thing has always been fun though…
Frankie Abralind w/ his “Spanking Esters” shirt, Jon Mueser (the Aglae Biodiesel God), and Lyle Rudensey sportin’ a Spankin Esters shirt as well (Man I thought that shirt was cool!).
Sidenote: Did you know Lyle Rudensey taught none other than the Mayor of Seattle how to make Biodiesel once? How cool is that!!
Yep. All the regulars were there & on hand….
The Year Of The Dogs…
I’m not sure why, but there were an awful lot of dogs at the conference this year.
Mark Hayes w/ his dog (also BioPro owner..sorry, couldn’t resist)
The Party Boxer. This guy just stood at the door patiently waiting. I got a kick out of it. You could open the door but he wouldn’t break the threshhold. “Good dog!”
And a few others were hanging around there as well. Kind of gave it that relaxed feel that we always have…
There were also some really cool people that I got to meet this year that I’d spent a lot of time on the phone with but had never met face-to-face that I really enjoyed meeting.
Here’s a few:
Dr. Bill Carney from Louisianan State University
This guy has built a whole program around Biodiesel and now offers free workshops to the public sharing information about this incredible fuel! You can check out some of the positive press they’ve received here…
LSU Positive Press
Al Johnson of GoScoot
Al is a BioPro dealer in Louisiana that I’ve also spent a lot of time with on the phone but never had met until the conference.
The Piedmont Crew
These guys are the true movers & shakers in Biodiesel. From the cavitational reactor to methanol recovery to dry washing, you’re looking at some of the folks that make it happen!
Even Santa Claus a.k.a. Steve Patterson of Denver Biodiesel was there….
And Girl Mark…
I’m sure she’ll shoot me for this picture…
And now for more interesting fun….
Did you know Girl Mark can sing? And play guitar?
And she’s pretty dang good at it too! (I’ve got a video somewhere that proves this point too….now where did I put that thing?)
Jon was back with his fiddle, someone was there with a banjo, and the party at the Coolbaugh house was a happening place!
“So I was collecting oil one night when the pump just died on me.” (Sorry it was just beggin’ for a caption)
Steve Fugate was there….
(check out the shirt)
And many others….
Overall, the conference was a huge hit. I didn’t get to see the final tally, but I think we hit 150 people again this year if not more. It was really well organized, all the computers cooperated, and the case studies were phenomenal!
To see a full list of all the great presentations that were presented, visit this link:
The conference felt like it had grown up a little since last year and had a more “professional” tone to it (not bad, not bad at all). It was still great to meet up with all the great people that are making Biodiesel happen out there and it’s still one of the best conferences you can go to if you want to learn a ton about Biodiesel all in a couple days for just a little coin.
If you haven’t been to one of these, be sure to go! The great amount of information you’ll come away with will be well worth the trip and expense…and hey, you just might get to meet that nut from Utah that hawks Biodiesel supplies on his website….I hear he’s quite the character.
The Biodiesel Nut from Utah
(With a cold tonight)