Saturday is National Biodiesel Day, and the National Biodiesel Board is highlighting 5 individuals who make the industry great. One of them is Plant Chemist, Mike Morgan of Louis Dreyfus in Claypool.
Morgan first became passionate about biodiesel while in college at Utah State University, serving as a co-chair of NBB’s Next Generation Scientists for biodiesel program. He also used biodiesel he made at USU to set record speeds on the Bonneville Salt Flats. The biodiesel industry supports 64,000 jobs, many the highest paying jobs in the area. Morgan heads special projects, testing method development and validation in the laboratory for the largest fully integrated soybean processing and biodiesel plant in the U.S. Located in Claypool, the annual capacity for biodiesel production is 110 MGPY.
Morgan says biodiesel is important because, “It brings energy to our area and it’s something that’s good and sustainable.” He says we’re blessed to be in an area where we’re able to source everything locally and utilize it to the fullest extent, because of the Louis Dreyfus plant.
Morgan projects that 10 years from now biodiesel will be a much bigger portion of the fuel that’s in the market, especially if we all continue to help so that there’s the need for renewable fuel in our fuel supply.
The other four people recognized for their success were:
Lead Technician, Hero BX. Jim Wilwohl serves as a shift foreman, overseeing a four-man crew at biodiesel producer Hero BX in Erie, Penn. With a capacity of more than 45 million gallons per year, the plant employs about 50 people. Born and raised in Erie, Wilwohl says the plant has some of the best manufacturing jobs in the area. “I like that my job is part of a green industry,” Wilwohl said. “It’s nice to work in modern facility, and we have what I consider great pay, benefits and profit sharing.”
Owner, Emergent Green Energy. Matthew Jaeger grew up on a Kansas farm, and his brother Luke’s vision of producing fuel for their equipment spurred the beginning of EGE Biodiesel. Based in Minneola, Kan., EGE is a family agricultural-based business specializing in the delivery of American biodiesel to local and regional customers. With multi-feedstock capabilities, the company partners with local farmers, and with restaurants to recycle cooking oil and grease for use in the production of biodiesel. “Our success in producing biodiesel has led us in other directions of business, all connected back to the goal of helping farmers and adding value to what they do for other customers,” said Matthew Jaeger.
Quality Consultant. Kent Bullard has served as an auditor for BQ-9000, the biodiesel industry’s voluntary quality assurance program, since 2004. With a master’s degree in quality assurance, he has audited 38 producers, marketers and labs. Auditors like Bullard have help the program become a success; certified producers now account for more than 90 percent of the U.S. biodiesel volume. As a user himself, Bullard is also considered a biodiesel pioneer. While serving as fleet manager at Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Los Angeles, he led one of the first biodiesel programs at a national park, from 2000 until he retired in 2012.
General Manager, Western Iowa Energy. An accountant by trade, Brad Wilson spent several years as a financial auditor, mainly auditing grain cooperatives. He became president and general manager of the facility in Wall Lake, Iowa, in 2016. The multi-feedstock plant recently grew from 30 to 45 MGPY and employs 30 people, many with young families in the town of about 800 residents. “It’s gratifying to me knowing that we provide green jobs with good pay in a community that benefits greatly from the economic development that brings,” Wilson said. “Our workers in turn support the schools and local housing market, among other things. Our plant also contributes to other businesses in the area, from family farms, to truckers to the railway.”