Preview: the November/December issue of Biodiesel Magazine

What's in store for the next print edition
By Ron Kotrba | October 23, 2013

The November/December issue of Biodiesel Magazine is nearly complete, and I would like to share some of its contents with you.

The split theme is Biodiesel Plant Safety, Maintenance and Fuel Additives, and we’ve got several articles on these important topics.

For my featured article on biodiesel plant safety I talk with state fire authorities and experienced consultants about hazard and operability (HazOp) analysis, fire codes, federal regulations, best practices and outreach to local fire departments and first responders. The issue of safety is such a sensitive one in the biodiesel industry, mainly because even as the industry matures, plant fires and accidents continue to happen. In St. Boniface, Canada, you all will remember the Speedway International plant explosion last year that rocked the area of metro Winnipeg. The facility is located near residential housing and locals were evacuated from the area. The damage was pegged at $15 million. A year later, as city councilman Dan Vandal said in a radio interview, it’s still no clearer who is responsible for inspecting and monitoring industrial sites with environmental licenses.

In the U.S., the Alabama State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk is refusing to let an Alabama producer restart operations after two fires until codes are met. I talk with Paulk, a very wise man I might add, for the article. Paulk advises biodiesel producers to find out what the rules are and follow them, because once those fire trucks turn their lights and sirens on and roll out of the station, nobody’s a winner. In Iowa, home to 12 biodiesel plants and 41 ethanol plants, there’s only one man in the state fire marshal’s office responsible for inspection of facilities with flammable and hazardous liquids, and that’s Deputy State Fire Marshal Jeffrey Miller. He talks with me about how many of Iowa’s renewable fuel plants are located in rural areas with volunteer fire departments that may not be—or to put it bluntly, aren’t—equipped to handle a catastrophic biodiesel, methanol or ethanol plant fire, and how the facilities themselves are responsible for providing their own fire suppression equipment and services. For the full story, check out “Safety is Not a 4-Letter Word.”

In “Eyes Wide Open,” a featured article I wrote on things to look for and consider when performing due diligence on buying biodiesel assets, I talk with advisors who have gotten their hands dirty with experience in facilitated sales (or purchases) of distressed assets. If you have a project you want to sell, or if you’re in the market for acquisition opportunities, you will find what these advisors have to say should not be overlooked.

Werner A. Reimann, senior expert fuels additives for Clariant OMS, and Bettina A. Siggelkow, Clariant’s global marketing manager, authored a technical contribution article, tailored for the European market, on effective cold flow treatment of biodiesel, renewable diesel and various combo blends of both with diesel fuel. If you’re looking for a technical article on additization of biodiesel, HVO and blends, you’ll find it here.

Lyle Estill, author of Biodiesel Power, Small is Possible, and Industrial Evolution, also president of Piedmont Biofuels, gives us this issue’s Talking Point column: “Safety from the School of Hard Knocks.” Estill gives a historical account of accidents since the early days of Piedmont Biofuels, and how those unfortunate incidents have led to a safer environment. After one major accident, Estill writes, “We started documenting like crazy…We started behaving the way a chemical plant should behave. Although we are no longer OSHA-obligated, we still act as if we are—maintaining a safety committee, with quarterly walkthroughs and documentation of problem areas we identify at the plant. Safety became a regular item at our Monday morning staff meeting, as did plant cleanliness, since the two are inextricably mixed.” You won’t want to miss Estill’s column.

Charles B. Palmer, attorney with the BrownWinick law firm, discusses process safety management compliance in the Legal Perspective column. Palmer has great, easy to read advice for plants buttressed by legal precedent and experience.

As always, we feature the National Biodiesel Board’s four-page “Inside NBB” section, which we lead off with a column from exiting chairman Gary Haer on what a year 2013 has been for U.S. biodiesel.

In addition, get the latest industry information and perspective in our FrontEnd news and Business Briefs sections.

Finally, I would like to thank this issue’s advertisers for their support:

2014 International Biomass Conference & Expo

2014 National Advanced Biofuels Conference & Expo

Biodiesel Industry Directory

Crown Iron Works Company

Eastman Chemical Company


Evonik Corporation

French Oil Mill Machinery Company

Genscape Inc.

Gorman-Rupp Pumps


Hatfield Biodiesel

Iowa Central Fuel Testing Lab

Louis Dreyfus

MaxFlo Advanced Filtration

Menlo Energy LLC

Methes Energies

National Biodiesel Board

Superior Process Technologies LLC