History of Biodiesel - with Emphasis on Soy Biodiesel (1900-2017)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-928914-97-6

Publication Date: 2017 Oct. 18

Number of References in Bibliography: 909

Earliest Reference: 1912

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Brief chronology/timeline of Biodiesel

1900 – “But it is not yet generally known that it is possible to use animal and vegetable oils direct in Diesel motors. In 1900 a small Diesel engine was exhibited at the Paris exhibition by the Otto Company which, on the suggestion of the French Government, was run on Arachide [peanut] oil, and operated so well that very few people were aware of the fact. The motor was built for ordinary oils, and without any modification was run on vegetable oil. I have recently repeated these experiments on a large scale with full success and entire confirmation of the results formerly obtained.” (Introduction by Dr. Rudolf Diesel {p. 4-5} to: Chalkley. 1912. Diesel Engines for Land and Marine Work, 2nd ed.; Rudolf Diesel, Proceedings - Institution of Mechanical Engineers. March, p. 179-280, in German).

1916 – Using the first diesel engine imported into Argentina, R.J. Gutierrez of Buenos Aires University tested castor oil as an alternative fuel (Gutierrez. 1916. In: 1st South American Engineering Congress, Buenos Aires).

1920 – R. Mayné writes Les Moteurs à l'huile de palme [Motors that run on palm oil] (Annales de Gembloux. 26(11):509-15, in French).

1921 May – George H. Ford, writing in English, confirms earlier reports of success in Belgium (“Vegetable oils as engine fuel.” Cotton Oil Press, 5(1):38).

1921 Dec. – Soy oil is first used successfully in Japan to make “artificial petroleum” (Kobayashi, K. 1921. Ni, san shokubutsu oyobi kôyu yori jinzô sekiyu seizô shiken [Artificial petroleum from soyabean oil, cocoanut oil, and stearine]. Kogyo Kagaku Zasshi {J. of Chemical Industry, Japan}. 24(12):1421-24. Dec.).

These results with soy oil were repeated by Masakadu (1921), Sato (1922), Masakazu (1923), South Manchuria Railway Co. (1924) and many others thereafter.

1931-1935 – M. Gautier writes 3 articles in French journals about the use of vegetable oils in diesel engines.

1936 May – The new Chemurgic Movement in the U.S. takes an interest in soy oil as a diesel fuel. In the Proceedings of the Second Dearborn Conference of Agriculture, Industry, and Science, we read about soy bean oil for tractors (p. 360): "If he [the farmer] can extract soy bean oil and run tractors on soy bean oil, he does not have to ship the soy beans to market and pay the freight, and let the industrialist extract the oil... he can run his Diesel tractor on the oil, and be ahead of the game all around.”

1937 Aug. 31 – Earliest biodiesel. Charles George Chavanne of Brussels is granted Belgian Patent No. 422,877 for [Procedure for the transformation of vegetable oils for their uses as fuels]. G. Knothe (2005) considers this the “first biodiesel.”

1940 March 5. – The New York Times reports that Germany is developing a new type of diesel engine for motor trucks. “This new invention uses 88 per cent soya-bean oil and only 12 per cent gasoline. Such engines were recently installed on more than 700 trucks operating in Yunnan and Szechwan” (Abend, H. 1940. “Reich continuing to aid Chungking.” March 5, p. 8).

1980s – Surplus Oil from Crushing Soybeans. When soybeans are crushed, two “co-products” result: soy oil and soybean meal. Before and during World War II (1940-1945) soybeans were crushed primarily for their oil, and were called an “oilseed.” But after World War II, the demand for soybean meal began to increase as consumption of meat increased with growing affluence worldwide. Increasingly the value of the meal in a given weight of soybeans was worth more than the oil. Thus, the oil became a by-product and a surplus of soybean oil began to develop. By the 1980s there was a large and growing surplus of soybean oil in the United States. This surplus held down the value of soybeans for the farmer. A movement arose to find new uses for this oil. One possible use was biodiesel, a clean-burning, renewable alternative to typical diesel fuel, which came from petroleum and caused pollution.

1984 Oct. – The word “Bio-Diesel” (regardless of capitalization or hyphenation) first appears in print in English (Power Farming Magazine {Sydney, Australia}, p. 10).

1990 – Dr. Tom Reed of the Colorado School of Mines produces biodiesel / methyl esters from used grease from Der Wienerschnitzel (a hot dog franchise) to run a bus demonstration project in Denver. Tom was the first person in the modern American biodiesel movement to make methyl esters.

1990 – The University of Missouri and the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council fund a study to demonstrate the use of soy-based mono-alkyl esters as a diesel fuel replacement. The wheels started turning –

and haven't stopped.

1991 Jan. – The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (headed by Kenlon Johannes) agreed to fund a one-year project for $22,000 to test a diesel pickup burning 100% soybean oil fuel. But the project had no fuel. So in the spring and summer of 1991, Leon Schumacher, in search of fuel for use in the project, locates Bill Ayres of Interchem Industries of Leawood, Kansas, who agrees to provide esterified soybean oil for the project. Bill Ayres was not making soy methyl esters at the time, but he said he could make and provide the fuel. Bill Ayres and Dr. Tom Reed had been working on alternative fuels and alternative energy since the late 1970s. Bill called Dr. Reed, who provided him with the formula over the telephone.

1991 Aug. – Using Dr. Reed's formula for the transesterification process, Ayres started making the first batches of methyl esters (biodiesel) in the gravel parking lot of his uncle's tree service business in Kansas City. The official company name was Midwest Biofuels, a subsidiary of Interchem Industries, Inc. Interchem did not have a plant facility in Kansas City at that time (Soybean Digest. 1992. “Soy diesel cleans up.” Mid-Feb. p. 49); interviews with Doug Pickering and Bill Ayres. 2007 May and March).

1992 Feb. – The term “Soy diesel” (regardless of capitalization or hyphenation) first appears in print in English (Soybean Digest, p. 49).

1992 March – The word “biodiesel” first appears in print in English in “Requested report to United Soybean Board on Soy Diesel,” by Kenlon Johannes, executive director of the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC).

1992 March – Three states are now involved with soy biodiesel: Missouri (Kenlon Johannes), Illinois (Lyle Roberts and his people), and South Dakota (Betty Hansen). Kenlon's board told him that the program was getting too big for Missouri to carry alone; he should try to get the national soybean organizations (ASA and USB) involved. USB now had a lot of money from the unified checkoff and they were looking for effective ways to spend it. Kenlon wrote a project proposal and USB contributed millions of dollars in the early years.

1992 Jan. 1 – David Thomas becomes the first CEO of the United Soybean Board, serving until 31 March 1994.

1992 Feb. – Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC) purchases its own Ford F-250 diesel pickup for continued research and development.

1992 May – National Soy Fuels Advisory Committee is formed.

1992 July 4 – Sunrider, powered by pure soy biodiesel and captained by Brian Peterson (with his 12-year-old son), sets out to circle the globe. Sunrider is a Zodiac Hurricane inflatable boat, 24 feet long. Its diesel engine runs on soy methyl esters (biodiesel).

1992 July 5 – The word “SoyDiesel” (regardless of capitalization) first appears in print in English in an article titled “Boating the world on soybean power” in the Contra Costa Times (California, p. 12A). The article is about Bryan Peterson and his Sunrider expedition.

1992 Sept. – Interchem signs a contract with Procter & Gamble to have the latter manufacture up to 15 million gallons of soy biodiesel per year for Interchem (Chemical Marketing Reporter. Sept. 7, p. 5, 29).

1992 Dec. – National SoyDiesel Development Board is founded by Qualified State Soybean Boards from Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and South Dakota to coordinate state and national development efforts and begin long-term technical and regulatory biodiesel programs.

1993 Feb. 10 – Kenlon Johannes is elected executive director of the National SoyDiesel Development Board – renamed the National Biodiesel Board in Sept. 1994. He moves to that position from the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC).

1993 – Dozens of biodiesel demonstrations begin, including Lambert International Airport (St. Louis), New Jersey Highway Dept., and U.S. Postal Service, plus snow trucks and other heavy-duty machinery and equipment.

1993 – Cedar Rapids, Iowa says 'yes' to soy biodiesel. Bill Hoekstra, transportation and parking director for Five Seasons Transportation and Parking, a division of the city of Cedar Rapids, starts to use a biodiesel blend in the fleet of 50 buses, 20 paratransit vehicles, and five night buses he manages.

1994 Sept. –Recognizing value of diversity, and to broaden industry support, the Board of Directors vote to change the name from the National SoyDiesel Development Board to the National Biodiesel Board.

1994 – University of Idaho completes coast-to-coast and back on-road test with 100% biodiesel fueling a Cummins-powered Dodge pickup.

1994 – Conference on 'Commercialization of Biodiesel: Establishment of Engine Warranties' is sponsored by the University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho.

1995 Oct. – In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the entire bus fleet has committed to run on a 20% biodiesel blend (B20) – the first bus fleet in the USA to do adopt biodiesel.

1995 Dec. 1 – Ag Environmental Products (AEP), based in Overland Park, Kansas, begins shipping biodiesel Dec. 1 and expects to distribute the cleaner-burning alternative fuel on a national basis. Company principals are Bill Ayres and Doug Pickering. This is the first commercial marketer and distributer of soy methyl esters.

1995 – Yellowstone National Park Biodiesel Project begins.

1996 Nov. – Ag Processing Inc a cooperative (AGP) begins commercial production of SoyGold and SoyGold Marine biodiesel at Sergeant Bluff, Iowa (AGP News. 1996. Dec, p, 1, 6. “Methyl esters: A new direction for AGP! New plant at Sergeant Bluff, Iowa operational – Will serve new markets!”).

1996 – West Central Cooperative (Ralston, Iowa) begins commercial production of soy biodiesel.

1996 – Two major biodiesel fuel suppliers registered with EPA.

1996 – Conference on “Commercialization of Biodiesel: Environmental and Health Effects” is held at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park.

1997 – Conference on “Commercialization of Biodiesel: Producing a Quality Fuel” is held at Boise, Idaho.

1998 – Beginning of Kenworth / Caterpillar Simplot 200,000-mile test with HySEE biodiesel in a heavy-duty truck.

1998 – CCC buy-down program for producers of biodiesel.

1998 – President Bill Clinton signs Executive Order 13101, giving preference to bio-based products for federal government use. Congress approves biodiesel use for compliance with the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPACT).

1999 – President Clinton signs Executive Order 13134, calling for the expanded use of bio-based fuels such as biodiesel.

The US biodiesel industry produces 500,000 gallons.

2000 – Biodiesel becomes the only alternative fuel to successfully complete the EPA's Tier I and Tier II Health Effects Testing under the Clean Air Act.

Nov. 2001 – Dr. Gerhard Knothe writes an outstanding, pioneering article, “Historical Perspectives on Vegetable Oil-Based Diesel Fuels,” in INFORM magazine (p. 1103-07), with 112 bibliographic references. He works at USDA’s NCAUR, Peoria, Illinois.

2001 – The National Biodiesel Accreditation Program (BQ-9000) is established as a cooperative and voluntary program for the accreditation of producers and marketers of biodiesel fuel.

2001 – The Defense Energy Support Center (DESC) buys 1.5 million gallons of B20 for use at government sites throughout the US, marking an increased commitment for government use of biodiesel.

2002 – Groundbreaking biodiesel legislation becomes law in Minnesota, requiring the inclusion of 2 percent soy-based biodiesel (B2) into the majority of Minnesota's diesel pool.

2002 – The Senate version of the Energy Bill includes the first-ever proposed biodiesel tax incentive, giving the fuel a one-cent exemption per percentage of biodiesel, up to 20 percent.

2002 – ASTM (American Society for Testing Materials) Standard D-6751 for Biodiesel approved.

2003 – The National Biodiesel Board prepares for its first ever biodiesel conference and expo, set to take place in Palm Springs, California in February 2004.

2004 – The biodiesel tax incentive is first enacted as part of HR 4250, the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004; $1 per gallon for biodiesel fuels made from virgin oils and $0.50 per gallon for other biodiesel fuels.

2005 Sept. – The price of gasoline reaches a record high of $3.07 per gallon at the pump on average across the USA. A widespread search for alternatives is launched.

2005 – Minnesota's landmark B2 standard is implemented. President Bush signs legislation establishing a tax incentive for biodiesel.

2005 – Knothe, Van Gerpen and Krahl write The Biodiesel Handbook, published by AOCS Press (Champaign, Illinois; ix + 302 pages; 793 references). A comprehensive, outstanding work. Chapter 2 is “The history of vegetable oil-based diesel fuels,” which notes that during and immediately after World War II, the main use of vegetable oils as emergency fuels seems to have been outside of Europe, in countries like Brazil and China.

2005Biodiesel: Growing a New Energy Economy, by Greg Pahl published by Chelsea Green (xiv + 281 p). Excellent on international biodiesel history.

2006 – The National Biodiesel Board opens its Washington, D.C. office. The office is committed to raising awareness of biodiesel successes, while advancing positive federal energy policy.

2006Biodiesel America, by Josh Tickell published (340 p.).

2007 – The National Biodiesel Board adopts a new board structure to help ensure its ability to speak with one voice. The structure streamlines and clarifies membership categories, guarantees more biodiesel producer seats on the Governing Board, and envisions proportion of producer leaders over time.

2007 – The National Biodiesel Board launches its Political Action Committee. The National Biodiesel Foundation is reestablished and becomes active in developing resources to support the biodiesel industry.

2007 – The US biodiesel industry produces 500 million gallons of fuel, up dramatically from 500,000 gallons in 1999.

2008 – President Bush signs legislation establishing the renewable fuel standard (RFS2) providing a mandate of use of biomass based diesel for obligated parties.

2008 – The National Biodiesel Board opens its new 'green' headquarters office in Jefferson City, Missouri. The refurbished building features motion-activated lighting, high-recycled content carpet, skylights, low VOC paint, and solar powered security lighting in the parking lot.

2008 – ASTM passes new specifications, one that allows for diesel to contain up to B5, and another that sets a new specification for blends of B6 to B20.

2008 – The state of Washington begins its B2 state-wide standard.

2009 – Pennsylvania biodiesel requirement triggers 2 percent biodiesel in all diesel fuel, to begin January 1, 2010.

Oregon B2 standard begins, with an increase to B5 in 2011.

2010 – The RFS2 program officially goes into effect. The RFS program sets annual mandates for renewable transportation fuels. New York City passes a 2 percent Bioheat mandate. The bill creates a 2 percent biodiesel standard in the city's heating oil beginning in 2012.

2011 – The National Biodiesel Board launches the Advanced Biofuel Initiative. U.S. biodiesel is the only commercial-scale advanced biofuel in America, as defined by the EPA.

2011 – More than 60 percent of U.S. equipment manufacturers now support B20 or higher blends in at least some of their equipment.

2011 – The US biodiesel industry breaks the 1 billion gallons produced mark.

2012 – The National Biodiesel Board celebrates its 20th year.

2013 – The biodiesel industry sets a new production record with nearly 1.8 billion gallons of Advanced Biofuel, exceeding RFS volume requirements for the third year in a row.

2016 – The US biodiesel industry breaks the 1.8 billion gallons produced mark, according to EPA statistics.

According to a recent study, the industry supported about 64,000 jobs nationwide. Biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 to 86 percent, according to the EPA.

Click here to download the full text to open and read book History of Biodiesel - with Emphasis on Soy Biodiesel (1900-2017)