Chemical firms love biofuel

There are several chemical companies who like what they see when it comes to biofuel’s growth in demand. Why? Because it gives them the opportunity to develop (and sell) products that make biofuel cheaper and more efficient to use.

Take for an example companies such as Albemarle, BASF, and Evonik who offer high performance catalysts for efficient production of biodiesel; while companies like Lanxess and Rhodia offer biofuel additives that are especially necessary when using feedstock such as vegetable oil, which can become rancid in fuel tanks caused by air exposure.

A very brief interview with Jose Berges, senior vice president and general manager at Evonik’s Electrolysis products & Alcoxides business, noted Evonik’s strategies in being close to major biofuel markets. Below is a snapshot of the interview with Mr. Berges.

Q: What is Evonik’s overall strategy when it comes to alternative fuels? Why venture in these areas?

Berges: Biofuels is one of the most important megatrends in the global economy. As the world’s leading supplier of catalysts for biodiesel production, we are present in all markets in order to be close to our customers and to be their partner for growth. We have plants in Europe and the US and will look into further production sites wherever the market requires this.

Q: What specific milestones the company hopes to accomplish targeting the alternative fuels market?

Berges: Probably the most important milestone (for the industry at least) is the implementation of RFS2 in the US. This would allow the biodiesel companies to operate their plants at satisfactory levels and help lessen dependency on fuel fossils.

Q: What are the challenges that the industry in general face when it comes to helping develop alternative fuels?

Berges: Biofuels has become a topic which is discussed in a very emotional way. Applying sound science to all evaluations is a major issue which has to be achieved in order to make the right decisions. The role of political administration is crucial. Without a clear commitment from government, biofuels will not find their way into a sound energy mix.

Q: Are there any other new biofuels development that caught the company’s attention but has not (yet) delved into?



Berges:
We are constantly looking at market developments in order to participate in potential new markets. This happens both from a point of view of an energy consumer as well as a supplier of chemical products for the fuel producers.

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Also check out more about Berges’ view on biodiesel in this June 2009 issue of Biodiesel magazine.





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