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On Campus

AU Hosts the Fourth Annual Collective Biodiesel Conference

By Jessy Bradish

Lindsay Madeira, Manager of Sustainability Programs, en route to the conference in her biodiesel-fueled car.

Lindsay Madeira, Manager of Sustainability Programs, en route to the conference in her biodiesel-fueled car.

Home-brew biodiesel producers and enthusiasts journeyed from across North America to this year's Collective Biodiesel Conference (CBC). Hosted by American University's Department of Facilities Management, nearly 100 attendees made the pilgrimage to swap tips on all aspects of biodiesel production for three packed days of conference activities.  

The conference kicked off with a training session on lobbying taught by a member of Friends of the Earth (FOE), followed by a trek to Capitol Hill. Conference-goers met with the staff of more than a dozen of their state representatives to push for broader usage of biodiesel fuel for energy independence and climate change mitigation. They also addressed issues such as compatibility concerns for high-blend biodiesel with newly-mandated Diesel Particulate Filters, and the importance of sustainability standards in biofuels policy.   

This year's keynote address included an advanced screening of the new film FUEL, followed by a Q & A session with writer/director Josh Tickell, and producer Rebecca Harrell. The docu-drama looks at America's past and present fuel consumption and our technological responses to date. It also highlights the prospects of utilizing advanced biodiesel technologies and cutting-edge feedstocks among a diverse portfolio of viable renewable energy options and conservation strategies. The resounding message is one of hope, possibilities, innovation, and technological progress towards a sustainable future.    

Tickell has been prominent on the biodiesel scene since writing From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank, and spoke on two conference panels as well. Check out the movie's Web site for a screening in a city near you this fall. (See Quick Links)

During the course of the three days, there were nearly 30 presentations given with three tracks of talks divided into: Feedstock Collection, Biodiesel Production, and End User/Distribution.

Attendees had the opportunity to showcase their processors, vehicles, and the latest biodiesel technologies and products in the exhibitor demonstration portion of the conference. For an added element of community building and knowledge sharing, everyone was invited to Calleva Farms in Virginia for an evening tour of their biodiesel processor facility.  The evening was capped off with a fresh organic produce meal prepared by the farm staff, a baseball game, a giant bonfire, and a musical celebration.  Conference participants were transported to and from the farm on biodiesel buses.     

Conference-goers also had the opportunity to visit Pogoil, an organic composting farm in Olney, MD that houses an 800 gallons-per-week-producing biodiesel processor. Pogoil also collects American University's landscape wastes and kitchen grease. The farm turns the grease into 100 percent biodiesel fuel that is used to power the equipment that creates organic compost, which is then returned to the university's grounds. As one of the conference organizers, the inventor of the processor, Frankie Abralind, gave a first-hand tour of the facility. He also publishes the magazine, Biodiesel Smarter, focused on the home-brew biodiesel community.  

As the conference wrapped up, the lobbying kick-off to the conference was deemed a success by many participants who noted how empowering it was to talk to government representatives about important biodiesel issues. To support continued discussion and collaboration among biodiesel proponents, the conference has created an online forum, where advocates can share research, discuss strategies, and support each other's efforts throughout the year. To become a participant, visit the CBC Web site and click "forum".  (See Quick Links)

For pictures, and information about how to be part of next year's conference, visit the Collective Biodiesel Web site. (See Quick Links)