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How to Flourish in the Biodiesel Industry: A Day at Pied...

How to Flourish in the Biodiesel Industry: A Day at Piedmont Biofuels

In July 2012, North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan gleefully snipped the official ribbon at the Piedmont Biofuels ribbon-cutting ceremony, signifying the well-proven commercial viability of the plant’s innovative biodiesel brewing process. Just about two years ago, the triumph of this successful biofuels company was made possible by a $1.2 million United States Department of Energy

In July 2012, North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan gleefully snipped the official ribbon at the Piedmont Biofuels ribbon-cutting ceremony, signifying the well-proven commercial viability of the plant’s innovative biodiesel brewing process. Just about two years ago, the triumph of this successful biofuels company was made possible by a $1.2 million United States Department of Energy Small Business and Research grant. The snowballing achievement of Piedmont Biofuels may be further conveyed upon a short skimming of their website’s nascent newsletter archive.
Biofuel education tours Piedmont Biofuels, of Pittsboro, North Carolina, is the first biodiesel plant of its kind in the nation. Rather than using conventional chemical catalysis in their creation process, Piedmont Biofuels employs a unique, state-of-the-art enzymatic transesterification method to produce B100-grade biofuel. This technological advancement will allow for a wider range of foodstocks to be utilized for production. Rachel Burton, the company’s research director and founder, was named the National Biodiesel Board’s 2011 Biodiesel Researcher of the Year for her team’s breakthrough in enzymatic catalysis.

The ironic french fry grease aroma, encapsulating the plant’s campus, signs Piedmont Biofuels and North Carolina’s future as a major player in the modern biodiesel vanguard. The company’s revolutionary contribution to biodiesel will notably improve modern design, engineering, and landscape architecture practices. Biodiesel is a more environmentally-friendly diesel fuel, compared to its traditional petroleum-based counterpart, and is on its way to becoming economically sustainable.

Piedmont Biofuels is pioneering this sustainability, as its community-focused character is making strides in both the technological and fiscal aspects of biodiesel. They currently offer free oil removal services, free tours of the plant, traveling speakers, biodiesel workshops, internships, and a myriad of volunteer opportunities.
Biofuel education tours
Piedmont biofuels is a certified “B Corporation,” marketing it as a member of “a community of more than 500+ companies across 60 industries with one unifying goal: redefining success in business.” The “success” B Corporations strive for is in the arena of social and environmental problems. As Piedmont Biofuels grows, it will surely help to fulfill this mission.

What does the Piedmont Biofuels’ success indicate in the future of energy?

Credits: Image and data linked to sources.

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Evan Comen is an undergraduate at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pursuing a B.S. in both Economics and Environmental Studies and a minor in Urban Studies and Planning. A philosophical outlook towards education led his career aspirat...

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