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Posted on  

October 27, 2003

Biodiesel in demand after Nevada debut

By: Joel Knutsen

What started out as a test to see whether a 5 percent blend of soy biodiesel would be popular with consumers has turned into a thriving demand for the soybean-based product.

NEVADA - What started out as a test to see whether a 5 percent blend of soy biodiesel would be popular with consumers has turned into a thriving demand for the soybean-based product.

The renewable, environmentally friendly 5 percent soy biodiesel fuel - or B5, 5 percent soybean oil mixed with 95 percent petroleum diesel - made its debut at the Heart of Iowa Co-op's Cardtrol location in Nevada in April. It was a market test to see whether there would be interest in the fuel.

It not only performed up to expectations, but demand has increased virtually three-fold. It started with people purchasing zero to 50 gallons per day and is now up to 150 to 200 gallons per day.

"I think biodiesel is going to be the fuel of the future because it will reduce the demand on foreign crude oil," said Harlan Borton, petroleum manager at the Heart of Iowa Co-op.

In fact, Borton said that some of the increased sales are directly related to what's happening in the Middle East. He said Americans are showing their support by buying biodiesel fuel made with soybeans - an American-made product.

Currently, the B2 and B5 are 3 cents more expensive than regular diesel at the pump.

Biodiesel fuel is not completely new to the co-op. It has been selling 2 percent biodiesel to farmers for about two years now.

"I try to help them through different usages, and I think biodiesel is a biggy," said Borton.

The coop delivers B2 directly to farmers who request it, and more farmers have been asking for it this year, especially during spring and fall, he said.

"This is the first year I have used it, and I haven't noticed any problems with it," said Nevada farmer Bill Couser. "I think it's a pretty good deal that we're using a product that's giving something back to the farmers."

Furthermore, being a soybean farmer himself, Couser said he hopes the current trend continues to the point where sometime soon there will be a mandate that all diesel fuel has a bio blend in it.

The first such mandate was made in Minnesota in March 2002.

That mandate says nearly all diesel fuel sold in the state must contain at least 2 percent biodiesel by 2005.

Borton said he doesn't think it will be long before Iowa follows suit.



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