Business Briefs: Companies, Organizations & People in the News

By | May 11, 2009
›The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association is sponsoring a grass-roots program to promote biodiesel. IFRA's Biodiesel Backer program is offering two $2,500 grants meant to increase biofuels awareness among the state's youth while promoting their health and well-being. Schools interested in sharing the biodiesel story can use the biodiesel toolkit available on the IRFA Web site,, to educate their communities about the benefits of the renewable fuel.

›The National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission has added laboratories to its BQ-9000 quality assurance program. "Reliable lab results are a major factor in guaranteeing fuel quality," said Rod Lawrence, manager of quality control for Magellan Midstream Partners LP. The BQ-9000 Lab Program calls for quality management systems in commercial laboratories that analyze biodiesel and biodiesel blends. The certification program focuses on equipment calibration and maintenance, quality control, proficiency testing and test result reporting.

›California biodiesel equipment manufacturer SRS Engineering Corp. hosted representatives of the Indonesian government in late March. The delegation visited a handful of Southern California businesses to discuss potential trade agreements, including the feasibility of a biodiesel plant being erected in Indonesia and the potential for expanded palm oil exports to the United States. "I was very impressed with the Indonesian delegates and their desire to create strong trade agreements between the two countries," said Clayton Hawranik, CEO of SRS Engineering. "Our brief meeting uncovered a wealth of opportunities between our countries." More talks will follow, he said.

›Global Clean Energy Inc. has created a biodiesel division targeting algae as a feedstock in addition to its core work in clean coal technology. With this expansion of its business model, GCE has moved its U.S. headquarters from Denver to Houston. Tom Kaufmann, head of investor relations for GCE said that its proprietary vortex pump-equipped to extract oil from algae slurry with a solid content near 80 percent-is one reason they're very excited by the prospects of this new division. "It can extract oil with greater speed and better cost performance than other equipment we've seen," Kaufmann said.

›The Argentine Renewable Energies Chamber has updated its report of the current state of the Argentinean biodiesel industry, covering the past six months. Although Argentina is among the top five biodiesel producing countries in the world, it is only operating at about half of its total installed capacity, the report found. Total industry production reached 1.07 million tons (319 million gallons) in 2008, with sales in excess of $1.3 billion. A free copy of the report, which also discusses the EU's moves to limit the entry of soy-based biodiesel and domestic market data, can be viewed at

›Acciona Energy commissioned its second biodiesel plant, a 60 MMgy facility at the Port of Bilbao in Zierbana, Spain, on land owned by Bunge Ltd. Bunge has a 20 percent stake in the plant and will provide feedstocks from its European crushing operations. Spain has mandated that 3.4 percent of transport fuels come from renewables this year, and 5.83 percent in 2010. With less international competition because of countervailing measures against U.S. imports and new biofuels mandates, conditions are more favorable for new biodiesel plants in Europe.

›United Kingdom biodiesel producer Argent Energy was named "Sustainable Biodiesel Producer 2009" at the Sustainable Biofuels Awards during the World Biofuels Markets Expo and Conference held in Brussels, in mid-March. Award nominees were judged on sustainability benefits, as measured by greenhouse gas savings, environmental impact and further societal benefits of the operations or technology. Argent Energy's 50 million liter (13 MMgy) multi-feedstock plant, built by BioDiesel International AG, uses used cooking oil and animal fats. It is located near Motherwell, Scotland.

›Renewable Energy Group CEO Daniel Oh is adding the role of company president to his duties, replacing three-year REG veteran Nile Ramsbottom. Oh's duties at REG will include the oversight of biodiesel manufacturing, sales and marketing, procurement and risk management, production operations and technology services, alternative feedstock research and commercialization, and corporate development programs for REG's domestic biodiesel business. Ramsbottom will forgo full retirement to become vice president of global operations, helping REG pursue relationships and business with national and international biodiesel customers and large feedstock producers. Natalie Lischer was appointed treasurer. In the newly created position, Lischer will oversee credit, invoicing, cash management, tax and inventory, accounts payable and debt banking relationships.

›Hawaii-based Pacific Biodiesel Inc. is supplying the first Hawaiian military marine fleet with locally produced biodiesel. The John W. Finn, launched in April, is the first of five new U.S Navy-operated tour boats that will run on the fuel. These ferry boats will replace the existing tour boats that transport 1.5 million visitors to and from the Arizona Memorial Visitors Center each year. Pacific Biodiesel's fuel is made from locally collected used cooking oil and meets the current U.S. ASTM specifications.

›Designed specifically for biodiesel transfer demands, Wilden, a division of the Grand Terrace, Calif.-based Dover Corp.'s pump solutions group, said their new line of advanced series pumps with the Pro Flo X air distribution system allows plant operators to use an integrated control dial to select the efficiency point and flow rate best suited to the individual needs of each application. "The results, in addition to lower energy costs, are higher performance, lower operational costs and performance flexibility that goes beyond what is considered the industry standard," Wilden stated.

›Evonik Degussa Corp. dedicated its new sodium methylate plant in Mobile, Ala., on April 28. The 60,000 metric ton per year (16.5 MMgy) facility will serve North American biodiesel producers. Previously, Evonik Degussa supplied U.S. biodiesel producers with catalyst made at its German facility. The new plant in Alabama, however, employs a different process to produce sodium methylate than its German counterpart. Instead of using an electrolysis process to make sodium methylate from sodium hydroxide and methanol, the new facility employs reactive distillation to make the same ready-to-use catalyst. The Evonik Degussa chemical park in Mobile, Ala., where the new catalyst manufacturing facility is located, contains 17 chemical plants. The company began chemical production there in 1976.

›The Brazil-U.S. Higher Education Council has formed a new network of biofuels-related researchers and institutions to promote information exchange and facilitate research between the world's two leading biofuels-producing nations. The network was developed under the auspices of the U.S. State Department through the Fulbright Commission in Brazil. Objectives of the network include providing information and access to funding opportunities; promoting awareness of research projects in Brazil and the U.S.; developing and advancing scientific exchange on research projects, technologies and scientific results; and improving communication, interchange and interaction among researchers in a variety of U.S. and Brazilian institutions.
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