Focusing on Feedstocks

By | June 17, 2008
Now that we're posting more stories on, we have the ability to track our readers' interests. Our site tallies how many page views each story receives, and it shows some interesting trends.

For example-and this should come as no surprise-we are seeing an increased interest in alternative biodiesel feedstocks, particularly algae. Of all the stories we've printed since January 2004, one that Staff Writer Jerry W. Kram wrote in the November 2007 issue, "Supersized Algae Bioreactors," is the No. 7 most-read story. In the past two weeks, this story was read by an additional 500 people, which is out of the ordinary for an issue posted online several months ago. In addition, the No. 11 most-viewed Biodiesel Magazine story, called "Algae on the Edge" and also written by Kram, addressed algae in our March 2007 issue. Other highly viewed feedstock stories featured hemp, palm oil, food waste, pennycress and camelina, among others.

Here's an example of a more recent feedstock story that just cracked the top 100 most-viewed stories: In the June 2008 issue, Staff Writer Susanne Retka Schill wrote "Multidimensional Moringa." In the first week the story was posted online, it was viewed approximately 100 times per day. I predict it will be one of our highest-viewed stories by the time our August issue is printed. Retka Schill received various letters to the editor (see page 14) in regard to this story, and they give interesting perspectives on Moringa oleifera from around the globe.

In this particular issue, Retka Schill takes another look at palm oil in a feature called "Palm Oil Fights Back" on page 46. This stemmed from a trip she recently took to Malaysia to attend the Malaysian Palm Oil Council's International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference. Camelina is also discussed on page 82 in a feature written by Biofuels Canada Managing Editor Khalila Sawyer, titled "Is There Room for Camelina?"

With all these alternatives, people may start to think soy oil is a feedstock of the past, but I wouldn't say that quite yet. In taking a look at the latest USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, I found that biodiesel plants are projected to use slightly more soy oil this year than last year (see page 21) even though soy oil prices are likely stay the same.

I think it's safe to say we'll probably have a feedstock-themed story in every issue of Biodiesel Magazine for quite a while. The real challenge will be to figure out which of these feedstocks will emerge as the most viable and inexpensive. Rest assured, Biodiesel Magazine will keep you posted.

Jessica Sobolik
Managing Editor
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