UMCS Energy show draws crowd, biodiesel conversation

Groups promote fuel, dispel myths

Plenty of things were on the menu at the Upper Midwest Convenience Store Energy Convention Tuesday and Wednesday in St. Paul – breakfast pizzas, regular pizzas, sandwiches, coffee blends, salads, etc.

Among all the clutter, biodiesel was also on the menu as the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council joined Plymouth, Minn., based MEG Corp and the American Lung Association of Minnesota at the premiere petroleum marketers show, which was larger than most years as it also included Iowa petroleum marketers.

MEG Corp
Lisa Pedderson and Kelly Marczak of MEG Corp. speak with fuel distributors at the Upper Midwest Convenience Store Energy Convention in St. Paul.

While MEG Corp. and MSR&PC covered the Minnesota Biodiesel booth, ALAMN stood alone to tout the clean air benefits of biofuels.

“We feel it is very important to be at a show like this,” said Lisa Pedderson, operations manager for MEG Corp. “Often times at these shows, people seek out our booth because they believe they are having problems with their fuel, and they think it is because of biodiesel. We’re here to listen to their concerns and offer tools and services to help them diagnose the problem. We’re also here to help fuel distributors find out how to blend more biodiesel for their customers.”

One of the tools MEG Corp. offers to fuel distributors and farmers is the diesel helpline, which allows these groups to call in and request to have fuel or a filter tested, ask general questions, look for advice or have problems diagnosed.

“Biodiesel is a great fuel,” said Mike Youngerberg, senior director of product development and commercialization for Minnesota Soybean. “When we’re at shows such is this, we want others to know just how great biodiesel is for their business or operation. Having a technical resource like MEG Corp. helps us dispel myths and concentrate on more important issues, like blending B20 this summer.”

Pedderson says the biggest issue is tank maintenance.

“What gets into your fuel matters,” she said. “Check your tank for water. Make sure you keep your tanks full, because that’s where your condensation occurs. Your fuel distributor is not bringing you water. It happens when you have half-empty tanks and condensation.”

Youngerberg says water in the tank is a problem because it promotes microbial growth in the fuel and rust in the tank.

Renewable Energy Group (REG) also displayed at the show. Chris Schmale, REG sales representative for the Midwest region, said the show offers REG the chance to network with current and potential customers while serving the biodiesel industry.

“For us, it’s important for a couple of different reasons,” he said. “Obviously we have a plant in Albert Lea. Supporting the state of Minnesota and the biodiesel industry itself and trying to be good stewards and good educators and have a presence in a state that we support is important.”

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