October 24, 2008

For Immediate Release                                                       
CAST Releases New Commentary Evaluating Biodiesel Production
       October 27, 2008…Ames, Iowa. The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) is releasing a new CAST Commentary—Convergence of Agriculture and Energy: III. Considerations in Biodiesel Production— during special presentations at the National Farmers Union and the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research in Washington, D.C.
Concern about rising prices and unstable sources of petroleum fuels is driving the search for U.S. domestically produced, renewable transportation fuels such as biodiesel. Although vegetable oils can be used directly in biodiesel engines, experience has shown that excessive deposits in the engine cylinder degrade engine performance and increase emissions over time. Conversion to methyl esters allows vegetable oil to be used in diesel engines with fewer problems. These methyl esters have become known as “biodiesel.”
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.”
        CAST Executive Vice President John M. Bonner concludes, “Timely, science-based research is critical to the ongoing discussion of biofuels. CAST is pleased to present this new Commentary—third in an ongoing series titled 'Convergence of Agriculture and Energy'—as a contribution to the body of literature."
        The full text of Convergence of Agriculture and Energy: III. Considerations in Biodiesel Production (CAST Commentary QTA 2008-2) will be available online without charge beginning October 27, 2008 on the CAST website (, along with many of CAST’s other scientific publications.  CAST is an international consortium of 37 scientific and professional societies. It assembles, interprets, and communicates credible science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally to legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.
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Dr. Jon Van Gerpen—Phone: 208-885-7891; E-mail:
Dr. John M. Bonner—Phone: 515-292-2125, ext. 25; E-mail: