The Fight Goes On

By Ron Kotrba | April 15, 2009
Like many companies are doing now, this publication is restructuring its operations to more efficiently perform its core functions. To that end, I am the new editor of Biodiesel Magazine, leading a team of three other experienced journalists who will focus on the biodiesel and biomass industries. I look forward to the opportunities and challenges our team will face in the coming year, and welcome any comments or suggestions on how to better serve the producers, suppliers, service and technology providers, and organizations focused on biodiesel or other alternative diesel fuels.

A little about me – I have been a BBI International staff writer for more than four years, writing monthly feature and news articles for Biodiesel Magazine, Ethanol Producer Magazine and Biomass Magazine. Before joining BBI International, I was an advanced engineering laboratory technician for an exhaust manufacturer that supplied automotive companies with critical components such as catalytic converters, diesel oxidation catalysts, diesel particulate filters, selective catalytic reduction systems, and more. Finally, I am a Michigan State University graduate – by the way, the MSU Spartans, who were underdogs, just defeated Kansas, Louisville and UConn in NCAA Men's Basketball, to reach the final championship game only to lose horrendously to UNC.

Susanne Retka Schill, who has been a Biodiesel Magazine staff writer for more than two years, is the new assistant editor. She will not only continue to write great features for the magazine but she will also play a greater role in editing, as well as helping to determine the future direction of this publication. Schill is a University of Minnesota graduate and has an extensive agricultural background. Bryan Sims, the biodiesel plant list manager, is now an associate editor. Sims is a University of North Dakota graduate, and he also serves in the North Dakota Army National Guard. As a Guardsman, in June Sims will be deployed to Kosovo for a year, where he will be away from his new wife and BBI work family. We will miss him and will welcome his return. Another UND graduate and BBI International staff writer, Anna Austin, has also become an associate editor of Biodiesel Magazine. Austin is a good, new writer with a strong willingness to learn. I look forward to greater contributions from Anna in this magazine. Finally, journalism graduates of UND and U of M-Twin Cities, respectively, Jan Tellmann will continue as copy editor and Megan Skauge will remain the e-media coordinator.

I hope you enjoy this issue. While I'm aware that it is almost a cliché how embattled the biodiesel industry is, clichés become clichés for a reason. In this issue, Biodiesel Magazine covers several of the many issues facing the industry today. The financial crisis and poor biodiesel blend economics permeate all facets of the industry and can be sensed in the general mood of our news section and feature articles. Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, discusses some of the political challenges facing biodiesel, particularly a tax credit lasting longer than one year, in the "Inside NBB" section on Page 26. On Page 40, my feature article, "'Cold Soak' or Wet Blanket?", addresses technical issues with the Cold Soak Filtration Test and discusses production adjustments made at some facilities in order to produce B100 that can pass the test – a test no one seems to care for. Of course, there is always an issue with overcoming feedstock limitations of the biodiesel industry – is there enough, is it sustainable, is it a quality oil or fat? Schill, who tracks feedstock issues, this month explores the merging of traditional ag methods with high technology in India, in her "Mission: Jatropha" feature article on Page 58.

Finally, the public relations battle for greater acceptance of biodiesel is part and parcel of the nature of this magazine, which is why we all come to work every day.

Ron Kotrba
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