DTF webinar discusses pressing biodiesel issues

By Luke Geiver | October 25, 2010
Following the success of an informative webinar dealing with the theory and practice of biodiesel earlier this year, the Diesel Technology Forum held another successful biodiesel-based webinar in September. Featuring some of the most prominent biodiesel voices around the country, the webinar, titled, "Biodiesel Policies and Mandates: What's Really Involved," received a good response, according to Dawn Fenton, director of policy. But more importantly, it dealt with several pressing issues in the industry. "There was a broad range of questions asked, including ones about the role of biodiesel in California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard and how the reduced production in biodiesel was affecting mandates," Fenton said.

The presentations, five in all, were given by Ralph Groschen from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, who spoke about the state's success and experience with a biodiesel mandate; Randy Jennings from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, who touched on the importance of fuel quality; Dr. Juergen Fischer from Germany's AGQM Biodiesel e.V., who provided a European perspective; Dwayne Berger, director of renewable energy for the Massachusetts department of energy resources, who outlined the Bioheat and biodiesel environment in his state; and Shelby Neal, director of state governmental affairs for the National Biodiesel Board, who provided a nationwide look at mandates.

After the webinar, Fenton outlined three main areas the speakers touched on. The first involved the important term used recently to classify biodiesel-advanced biofuel. As a biofuel having more than 50 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum, the advanced biofuel classification "will be a significant factor promoting biodiesel production," Fenton said.

The second topic, which was covered by Jennings, Groschen, Fischer and Berger, was something that Fenton said has improved over the past few years: fuel quality. In 2007, 27 states had adopted the ASTM D6751 specs. Now 47 states use the specs and 21 states have active fuel quality enforcement efforts in place, up from eight in 2007, Fenton noted. "Fuel quality has also benefited from the passage of ASTM D7467 specification for biodiesel blends B6-B20," she said.

And as Berger pointed out during his presentation on Massachusetts' inability to implement its biodiesel mandate, Fenton also said that doing so can be quite complicated, particularly in regional markets when fuel enters from out-of-state terminals and pipelines. "In the case of Massachusetts, the decision to postpone the mandate was due to costs related to the expiration of the production tax credit and complications around the law's requirement that 'advanced biofuels' be used," she said.
Presentations for the next webinar will be more technical, Fenton said, and will include a detailed look at the potential challenges of using biodiesel blends in diesel passenger cars. To learn more about this and other DTF webinars, or to view presentations, visit www.dieselforum.org.
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