Formula for success: Community college lab first to earn BQ-9000 seal

By | September 01, 2010
The fuel testing laboratory at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa, has become the first in the world to earn accreditation as a BQ-9000 laboratory. It means the lab has become a national leader in testing biodiesel and biodiesel blends to ensure they meet fuel quality standards.

The nonprofit Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory offers cost-effective, rapid testing for biodiesel producers nationwide. It also tests other fuels including ethanol and petroleum.
Organizers hope that its new biodiesel accreditation will help it earn the business of more customers, including the Iowa Department of Agriculture's Weights and Measures Bureau, tasked with fuel quality compliance.

"One reason we wanted this accreditation is because people don't necessarily associate a community college with state-of-the-art laboratories, but that's exactly what we have, and BQ-9000 backs up our credibility," ICFTL Director Don Heck said.

Earning the designation of BQ-9000 Laboratory involved creating a detailed manual that regulates the process used in every step of the lab's biodiesel testing. A third-party auditor inspected the facility before granting accreditation.

BQ-9000 is a voluntary quality assurance program overseen by the independent National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission. To date, 62 biodiesel producers and marketers are BQ-9000 certified companies, representing 75 to 80 percent of the U.S. biodiesel production volume.

The laboratory designation is new. "There is a need in our industry for qualified, credible laboratories to test biodiesel samples," said Steve Howell, technical director for the National Biodiesel Board. "Becoming accredited is a rigorous process, and the Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory deserves our congratulations for being the first."

Howell noted that, as is the case with biodiesel producers, the NBAC expects to see other labs jumping on board with certification. That will help ensure a high quality fuel supply for producers and consumers alike, he said.

A combination of federal and state funding helped secure more than $2 million for the lab. The college thanked the NBB, Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa Biodiesel Board for their support and leadership in making the lab a reality. The groups helped conceptualize and develop the lab to help ensure the training, public awareness and testing needs of the biodiesel industry and consumers are met. For more on BQ-9000, visit
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