Growing the biorefining base

Getting the biorefining word out there
By Ron Kotrba | February 09, 2012

I’ve been in Orlando since Saturday for the 2012 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. If there’s any readers who don't know, I’ve not only been the editor of Biorefining Magazine since the fall of 2010, and its biannual supplement Algae Technology & Business launched in spring 2011, but I’ve also been editor of Biodiesel Magazine since 2009 and writing for Biodiesel Magazine since 2005.

Days before coming down to Orlando I realized I was out of my Biodiesel Magazine business cards, so I brought a stack of Biorefining Magazine business cards. I wasn’t too worried, considering this was the 7th National Biodiesel Conference in a row that I've been to, and many people at the conference affiliate me with our biodiesel product line.

What pleasantly surprised me was, as I passed out Biorefining Magazine business cards to biodiesel acquaintances and new faces, how many people were familiar with Biorefining Magazine and subscribe to it regularly, or read it online and receive our weekly newsletter. I thought I would have to explain to everyone what it is and why my business card didn’t say Biodiesel Magazine on it, but that, thankfully, wasn’t the case.

While the ethanol and biodiesel industries have little in common other than both being renewable fuels, that’s not the case with biodiesel and advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals. After all, biodiesel is the U.S.’s first commercially available advanced biofuel. The coproduct from biodiesel production is glycerin, which many biorefining firms such as GlycosBio are using to produce biobased chemicals.

These are just a few of the many items that the biodiesel and biorefining space have in common. Here at the conference I asked a few representatives of one of the big chemical companies that supplies sodium methylate catalyst to biodiesel producers if they’re keeping an eye on the biobased chemical markets. I asked because I have not heard of any news from this company about them getting into the market, as many other chemical companies are. Their response was, they can’t afford not to.