Virginia Biodiesel Conference held at James Madison University

By | December 01, 2004
What began in 2002 as a gathering of roughly 10 biodiesel enthusiasts in eastern Virginia blossomed into a day-long regional conference with over 250 registrants and speakers from around the country in November 2004. James Madison University (JMU), the city of Harrisonburg and Blue Ridge Clean Fuels Inc. of Charlottesville partnered to organize the first Virginia Biodiesel Conference on the campus of JMU. Virginia Biodiesel Refinery Inc. and Holtzman Oil Corp. helped support the event.

The successful conference grew out of quarterly biodiesel implementation meetings supported by the Virginia State Division of Energy and organized by the Hampton Roads Clean Cities Coalition. These meetings, held at various locations around the state, turned into a quarterly biodiesel forum that brings together statewide interests in both biodiesel and ethanol. The Virginia Biodiesel Conference is a continuation of this forum.

The event's special guest speaker was Jon Van Gerpen, professor and department head of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Idaho, known to many as the principle author and organizer of what is arguably the most comprehensive and definitive course in biodiesel offered in the United States. Other guest speakers who came from afar were Bob Gray, director of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions for World Energy Alternatives LLC; Brian Duff, a BBI International biochemical process engineer; and Lyle Estill, vice president of Piedmont Biofuels in Pittsboro, N.C.

Representatives from Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte's office spoke, as did Harrisonburg Mayor Larry Rogers, Harrisonburg Transit Manager Reggie Smith, Cathy Glenn of the Harrisonburg City Public Schools, Christie-Joy Brodrick of JMU, Chad Freckman of Blue Ridge Clean Fuels, Robin Jones of the Virginia Division of Energy, Dean Jerry Benson of JMU's College of Integrated Science and Technology, Rick Koontz of Holtzman Oil, Nic Van Vuuren of Virginia Clean Cities, and Rick Hiller, manager of the Arlington County (Va.) fleet of vehicles and a pioneer supporter of biodiesel.

uring a break, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the adoption of biodiesel in Harrisonburg transit and city school district buses. At lunch, winning logos created by local students who participated in JMU's biodiesel logo contest were displayed. Holtzman Oil Corp., the Virginia Soybean Growers' Association, Piedmont Biofuels, SHENAIR, and JMU's Fuels Diversification Program set up exhibition tables, and Massanutten Tech displayed its biodiesel go-cart. The conference ended with six panelists from the Shenandoah Valley, who discussed their fleet experience with biodiesel.

The conference agenda, speaker biographies, presentations, a link to a Web cast of the conference, additional photos, a more detailed conference review and information about the history of biodiesel adoption in the Shenandoah Valley and JMU's Biodiesel and Fuels Diversification Program is available online at
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