LAS VEGAS– A group of farmer leaders started a research and development group in the early 1990’s, 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 our nation’s energy security. The group they created became the National Biodiesel Board.
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 the National Biodiesel Board and the biodiesel industry celebrate its 20th anniversary, NBB recognizes the United Soybean Board and other biodiesel champions at the annual “Eye on Biodiesel” awards presentation. The awards are presented at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, this week in Las Vegas.
The National Biodiesel Board’s 2013 “Eye on Biodiesel Award” categories and their winners are:
Partnership: John Maniscalco, New York Oil Heating Association. New York City has become a shining example of biodiesel support as sustainability efforts continue to move forward. New York City recently passed landmark legislation: starting October 2012 all heating oil sold in the city must 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: Leon Schumacher, University of Missouri. One of the first researchers to jump into biodiesel with both feet was Leon Schumacher, a professor of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Missouri – Columbia. Dr. Schumacher led the first engine tests of biodiesel in the U.S. including a 1991 Dodge Ram which 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: Las Vegas Biodiesel User Group -- Gary H. Weinberg, Western Sierra Services; Ron Corbett, City of North Las Vegas; Frank Giordano, Clark County School District; James Morwood, Las Vegas Valley Water District; Dan Hyde, City of Las Vegas (retired). Luckily for biodiesel, what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas. This group of biodiesel pioneers championed the alternative fuel against all odds in the 1990s to help it become the established fuel it is today. The Las Vegas Biodiesel User 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. "In the beginning, biodiesel had its struggles to gain support, like any new fuel,” said Ron Corbett, Clean Cities Coordinator for Las Vegas. “Those of us who were early champions are gratified to see biodiesel finally gaining the momentum it needs to become the fuel of choice."
Influence: The United Soybean Board. As the National Biodiesel Board and the biodiesel industry celebrate two decades of biodiesel, NBB recognizes that the biodiesel industry would not have been possible without the United Soybean Board’s leadership and financial commitment through the soybean checkoff since 1992. Their continued support is instrumental in the growth of the biodiesel industry.
“Biodiesel, America’s advanced biofuel, would not be what it is today without champions and supporters like these Eye on Biodiesel honorees,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. “It is very fitting that as we reflect on 20 years of our industry that we honor our past and the enormous impact these biodiesel pioneers had on the early development of the biodiesel industry. We did our homework, and then some, to make sure biodiesel would be received as a technically credible fuel and that is a process that continues today.”
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