Conference gears up for continued growth, greater diversification

By | March 17, 2008
Sustainability and feedstock development were the buzzwords at the fifth annual National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla. A diverse cross section of biodiesel stakeholders from around the world attended the Feb. 3-6 event. Industry leaders predicted that biodiesel will grow to 1 billion gallons per year in the United States in the next few years and turned their attention to sustainability issues and developing the next generation of biodiesel.

The conference's Feb. 6 general session and several educational sessions focused on efforts to ensure a cost-effective, high-yielding and diverse feedstock supply. With instabilities in both the agricultural and energy markets, prices for biodiesel have been on the rise. The NBB has launched a feedstock development initiative that will explore potential new sources for biodiesel as well as advancements in current feedstocks. Panelists discussed the future of algae as a potential feedstock, and Solazyme, a biotech company, showcased its algae-derived biodiesel fuel in an unmodified Mercedes Benz C320.

"We're entering a new and challenging era for the biodiesel industry," said Joe Jobe, NBB CEO. "It is critical that we take opportunities to broaden the way we look at the industry.

We must make sure our feedstock supply can meet the growing demand for high-quality biodiesel in environmentally-sustainable ways. The conference was so successful because we did our best to include all voices on critical issues, including a focus on regulatory priorities."

The conference featured multiple educational tracks covering fuel production, technical updates, fuel distribution, policy/regulations, markets and users, as well as auto and engine manufacturer sessions.

Other conference highlights included a sold-out trade show featuring the field's latest products and services. Through composting, waste reduction, recycling and carbon neutrality, the NBB's greening of the conference stayed true to biodiesel's environmentally friendly nature. Plates used at the conference were made from sugarcane and cups were made from corn, both of which were composted and used in Disney gardens.

Actress Daryl Hannah and astronaut Jim Lovell spoke during general sessions.

In an effort to support the local community, children from the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida (Osceola Branch) were invited to help stuff bags with conference materials for attendees, as well as to watch a biodiesel video. Conference coordinator BBI International donated $2,000 to the club.

Approximately 3,600 people attended the conference. The following sponsors helped to make this landmark event possible: Biofuels Automation, Core Ventures, Croplan Genetics, Evonik Degussa Corp., New Holland, NewMech Companies Inc., Renewable Energy Group Inc., SSOE Inc., StarSupply Renewables and World Energy Alternatives.

For more details on the conference, including a link to the conference blog with audio links and photos, visit
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