CAST Comments on Biodiesel

John Davis

A new report looks at the technology behind biodiesel production.

The Iowa-based Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) has released a new CAST Commentary—Convergence of Agriculture and Energy: III. Considerations in Biodiesel Production:

This new CAST Commentary reviews the technology of biodiesel production in the United States and outlines major issues and policy implications associated with its expanded production and use. Specific topics include:

· Introduction to biodiesel fuels, their current use and future needs for development
· Summary and illustration of the biofuel production process
· Overview of quality requirements and concerns
· General characteristics of biofuels; advantages and disadvantages compared with petroleum diesel
· Economics of biodiesel production—current supply and demand, role of the U.S. government, existing and potential feedstocks, production costs, and technological advances
· Balance of energy—both energy requirements for production and potential energy output
· Conclusion, glossary, and complete reference list

“Biodiesel is developing into a widely accepted alternative fuel,” says Task Force Chair Dr. Jon Van Gerpen, University of Idaho, Moscow. “Quality concerns have been addressed, and most fuel today integrates easily into the existing diesel fuel infrastructure. Further expansion of the industry will require new or larger sources of vegetable oils and animal fats that can be produced at prices that allow biodiesel to compete with petroleum-based diesel fuel.”

The commentary will be presented at the National Farmers Union and the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research in Washington, D.C. You can get a free copy of the commentary at the CAST web site,