Talking Point

The NAFTC is Advancing Biodiesel Education
By Rich Cregar | November 01, 2005
"My neighbor just spent thousands of dollars to have her car converted to run on biodiesel," said the lady standing in front of our trade show booth. Several questions later, it finally became apparent that the woman's neighbor had, in fact, installed a vegetable oil system in a diesel-powered Volkswagon and-shouting from the rooftop-she was calling it biodiesel.

The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC), headquartered at West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.V., attends many industry conferences and trade shows where our staff fields inquiries from industry professionals and consumers alike. At the recent annual meeting of the North American Council of Automotive Teachers, myself and NAFTC Executive Director Al Ebron even had the opportunity to discuss diesel issues with Lyle Clessie Cummins.

Biodiesel holds great promise as an alternative fuel ready to help improve the American way of life. Yet biodiesel technology is poorly understood. More critically, it is misunderstood by many individuals who need to understand it well, such as fleet managers, public officials and private industry decision makers.

One of our jobs at the NAFTC is to bring the news of biodiesel and other clean energy alternatives to these individuals, as well as students and the general public. The NAFTC-the only nationwide alternative fuel vehicle and advanced technology vehicle training organization in the United States-is a national leader in promoting programs and activities that will lead to energy independence and the greater use of cleaner transportation. Our mission is to provide the training infrastructure for implementing the widespread use of alternative fuels, alternative fuel vehicles and advanced vehicle technologies. All of this is embodied in our motto: "Because Clean Air and Energy Independence Matter."
Founded in 1992, the consortium presently consists of 25 member community colleges, spanning the country from New York to California. Each college serves as one of our National Training Centers and provides "Training with Impact" through its experienced instructors and real-world shop facilities. Biodiesel education follows three paths at the NAFTC:

1.We offer a two-hour workshop presentation: "Introduction to Biodiesel." This instructor-led presentation discusses the basic properties of the fuel, quality standards, blends and the main issues surrounding use of biodiesel, both pro and con. This presentation is intended as a non-technical introduction to the renewable fuel and is ideal for advocacy groups, local officials and students.

2.One of our latest course offerings is a comprehensive, two-day study of biodiesel and diesel technology titled "Overview of Biodiesel." This in-depth technical course covers everything from feedstocks, lipids, transesterification and titration of feedstock to fuel quality standards, environmental issues and much, much more.

3.Our member schools incorporate biodiesel information into their regular automotive technology curriculum. By this process, tomorrow's automotive and truck technicians are gaining knowledge of biodiesel and other energy alternatives as part of their core technical education.
Both the workshop and full course have been extremely popular with attendees. The "Overview of Biodiesel" will continue to be offered on a periodic basis at our national training lab. NAFTC's biodiesel programs are available nationwide. Courses and workshops can be arranged on a custom basis by contacting our national headquarters at West Virginia University. I also invite you to visit our Web site at Of special interest is our e-news articles, which can be easily accessed from our home page.

Rich Cregar is an instructor and research associate at the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium. Reach him by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (304) 293-7882.
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