August tends to be a hot month in Minnesota, but that won’t stop the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) from adding fuel to the Bioheat® fire.
MSR&PC will host a delegation of East Coast Bioheat experts, distributors and end users as well as local and national biodiesel experts for a Biodiesel and Bioheat Forum Aug. 19 in Mankato.
Bioheat fuel is a heating blend of 5 percent biodiesel or less with ASTM D396. ASTM International, an organization that sets industry consensus standards for fuels, recently, released standards that approved blends of 6 to 20 percent biodiesel. This ushers in the opportunity for heating oil consumers to use Bioheat as a better alternative.
Minnesota Soybean Director of Field Services Mike Youngerberg says Bioheat use in the Northeast offers a substantial market opportunity for biodiesel, possibly even for fuel produced in Minnesota.
“The market could be upwards of 300 million gallons of biodiesel just in the home heating market alone,” Youngerberg said. “Suppliers are going to have to come from somewhere. There isn’t as much biodiesel production in the Northeast, so Minnesota and other states could be a good supplier to that market.”
Represented among the delegation will be the New York Oil Heating Association, Nazzaro Group, LLC, Petroleum Liaison, Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association, Hart Home Comfort, Northeast Public Affairs, Ohio Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, National Oilheat Research Alliance, National Association of Oil & Energy Service Professionals, Oilheat Manufacturers Association, Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey.
Soybean checkoff investment
MSR&PC has invested soybean checkoff money, in conjunction with the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), to send farmers to the East Coast to tour New York and New Jersey to better understand how biodiesel and Bioheat are used.
But for several years, NBB has worked with the United Soybean Board and some other state checkoff boards to research, test and develop biodiesel for Bioheat, making it an important investment that’s paying off.
“Last December, the New Uses team was out in New York and we had a chance to see how New York City and the port authority use biodiesel and bioheat,” said Bill Zurn, an MSR&PC director from Callaway, Minn., and chair of the New Uses team. “We got to thinking and said, ‘we should invite them to Minnesota to show them what soybeans are, meet some farmers and to see how biodiesel works in our state.’”
Zurn said the discussion led to sharing with the East Coast delegation, everything Minnesota Soybean encompasses.
“We want to give them a chance to meet both boards, the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and MSR&PC, and we want to show them that our farms are renewable, sustainable farms.”
John Lubas, President of the Empire Clean Cities Coalition, which covers New York City and Lower Hudson Valley, said the ECCC has been using biodiesel blends up to 20 percent for quite some time. Lubas, a retired director for the port authority in New York and New Jersey, said the port authority has been using biodiesel for well over 10 years.
John Maniscalco, Chief Executive Officer of the New York Oil Heating Association, said that in New York City, the city-owned fleet, which is comprised of the sanitation department, fire department, police department and the parks depart, runs on B5 in the winter and B20 in the summer. The NYC has more than 6,000 vehicles in its fleet.
Biodiesel’s impact in New York City isn’t only felt on the road, but in the buildings throughout the city, many of which are owned by NYC. The city of New York has a B2 mandate in all heating oil, but within city buildings, B5 is required in all heating oil mixes.
“The Northeast is a gigantic bioheat market,” Zurn said. “We feel that with the prospects we have in that region, we can show them we have the acres, the processing and the ability to be a supplier of biodiesel to the East Coast Bioheat market.”
Zurn said domestic markets such as the East Coast are an important area to invest soybean checkoff dollars.
“We feel this is a market for our soybean oil,” he said. “The more soybean oil we can sell in the biodiesel market, the more the meal market will improve. Minnesota is very strong in soybean processing and we want to continue to grow that industry.”