RESTORING A TARNISHED REPUTATION

By Ron Kotrba | August 26, 2013

Welcome to the ever-popular Quality, Testing and Standards issue of Biodiesel Magazine. Back in the mid-2000s, when Minnesota became the first state in the U.S. to implement a biodiesel mandate, then just at 2 percent, the excitement was high as biodiesel entered the mainstream diesel fuel market. Not long after, however, reports of clogged filters and mysterious residues left from biodiesel surfaced, and media reports ran with the news that this new fuel, biodiesel, was causing problems. And it got worse from there.


In 2006, National Renewable Energy Laboratory conducted a biodiesel fuel quality survey whose results were astonishing: More than half the samples tested in the survey were out of specification. Since then, the industry and its leadership have fought hard to restore biodiesel’s reputation, and years later, the efforts finally appear to be paying off. Read about the historical struggles biodiesel has endured, and how the U.S. industry has regained respect for producing high-quality fuel in “Biodiesel’s Quality Evolution” on page 28.


In “The Quick and the Mobile” on page 22, I interview three leading companies with portable biodiesel analyzers to discuss application, functionality, cost, accuracy, and what’s in the pipeline for future use. While results from portable devices cannot be used to show ASTM compliance, they are useful tools for quality control inside the plant. Outside the plant, blend analyzers can help maximize revenues from tax credits, RINs and low carbon fuel standard credits by allowing the blender to check the biodiesel concentration of incoming diesel fuel so they can increase the biodiesel portion to the desired percentage before distributing the product.


Also, BQ-9000-certified laboratory and biodiesel producer Community Fuels gives us “Biodiesel Quality: An Industry Imperative” on page 34, a must-read article about the California producer’s views on quality, and how it goes the extra mile to provide superior product to its customers. “Quality is easy to talk about but much more challenging to truly achieve,” write the authors from Community Fuels. “It requires substantial investment, serious commitment and continuous action.”

 
 
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