Biodiesel Leaders, Early Pioneers Recognized

A group of farmer leaders in the mid-section of the United States started a research and development group in the early 1990s looking for a new market for huge quantities of surplus soybean oil. Just off the heels of the first Gulf War, they envisioned an opportunity to contribute to their nation’s energy security. The group they created became the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

In the early years, the organization was focused on building a solid technical foundation for this new alternative fuel called biodiesel through extensive engine durability, compatibility, health effects, and emissions testing. In 1992, the United Soybean Board voted to invest national checkoff funds into biodiesel research, effectively launching biodiesel to the billion-plus gallon commercial industry that it is today. As NBB celebrated its twentieth anniversary at the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in early February in Las Vegas, NV, it also recognized the United Soybean Board with its Influencer Award for the board’s leadership and financial commitment through the soybean checkoff since 1992. Other biodiesel champions presented with NBB’s annual “Eye on Biodiesel” awards included:

• Industry Partnership – John Maniscalco, New York Oil Heating Association, helped make New York City a shining example of biodiesel support as sustainability efforts continue to move forward, including landmark legislation that now requires all heating oil sold in the city to contain at least two percent biodiesel. This cleaner burning, domestic fuel blend known as Bioheat will replace up to 20 million gallons of petroleum a year. The efforts of Maniscalco and the support provided by the New York Oil Heating Association made this unprecedented legislation possible.

• Innovation – Dr. Leon Schumacher, a professor of agricultural engineering at the University of Missouri, Columbia, is one of the first researchers to jump into biodiesel with both feet. He led the first engine tests of biodiesel in the United States, including a 1991 Dodge Ram that can still be seen on the university campus today. Biodiesel has become one of the most tested fuels on the planet. It began with this early research and continues today.

• Inspiration – The Las Vegas Biodiesel User Group, which comprises of Gary Weinberg, Western Sierra Services; Ron Corbett, City of North Las Vegas; Frank Giordano, Clark County School District; James Morwood, Las Vegas Valley Water District; and Dan Hyde, City of Las Vegas (retired), is a group of pioneers who championed the alternative fuel against all odds in the late 1990s to help it become the established fuel it is today. The group was among the first users of biodiesel in the nation. These fleets worked to overcome resistance, remove technical obstacles, and even successfully challenged large diesel equipment manufacturers to support biodiesel.

April 2013 RENDER | back