Biodiesel Board Honors Dr. Thomas Butcher


Brookhaven National Laboratory Scientist Wins for Innovation

The National Biodiesel Board recently honored several industry champions who have significantly impacted the biodiesel industry, including Dr. Thomas A. Butcher, head of the Energy Conversion Group at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

NBB presented five “Eye on Biodiesel” awards at the recent National Biodiesel Conference and Expo, held in Forth Worth, Texas. In honoring Butcher with the “Innovation” award, the Board declared that he has played an instrumental role in the technical research that formed the basis for the balloting of performance specifications for six percent to 20 percent biodiesel blended into traditional heating oil as a new fuel grade in the ASTM D396 fuel oil standard.

“His groundbreaking work documenting the positive field experience with biodiesel blends and providing research background were major factors in addressing questions brought up by the National Oilheat Research Alliance/NBB-led Bioheat Technical Steering Committee,” NBB wrote in announcing the award.

Butcher spoke briefly at the awards ceremony, calling the award “a really big deal for me.” “You have no idea how honored I am to get this award. This is just fantastic,” he said. “I’ve been a researcher for many years, and I’ve worked on a lot of different energy technologies, and the thing that really impresses me about biodiesel is impact – the impact that it’s had on the Northeast, the impact that it’s had on the heating oil industry across the country. This is an industry that because of biodiesel has kind of been rejuvenated. The folks out there in the grassroots doing work in the heating industry are pushing really hard and really fast and enthusiastically – sometimes even more than we are aware of, or expect, so you have really changed that world. I’m just really lucky to be a part of this – a part of this big group where everybody is contributing to these successes, and I look forward to the future.”

Four other leaders received “Eye on Biodiesel” awards. Here are the statements issued by NBB in recognizing their contributions.

Impact – Senator Al Franken: U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota has long been a champion for biodiesel in Washington and accepted a leadership role last year in challenging the EPA’s initial proposal that would have weakened Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes. Sen. Franken helped organize his Senate colleagues in holding meetings on the issue with senior Administration leaders. He has coordinated advocacy letters from members of Congress, and he has spoken out publicly to highlight biodiesel’s benefits across the country as he fought for a strong RFS. His advocacy and leadership have been instrumental in helping to develop a policy environment in which biodiesel can continue to grow.

Influence – Jerry Schoenfeld: Jerry Schoenfeld of Minneapolis-based Greater States Advisors has been instrumental in development, passage, and defense of landmark biodiesel legislation in Minnesota since 2000. Without the lobbying expertise and efforts on behalf of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, the state would not have the favorable biodiesel policies that it does today. Successes include a five-year process that led to the first in the nation B2 statewide blend requirement passed in 2002 and implemented in 2005. In 2009 the state implemented legislation to move to B5, the move to B10 was implemented in 2014, and B20 is on track to be implemented in 2018. The state of Minnesota has long been a leader in the biodiesel industry and much of that is due to these favorable policies.

Inspiration – Greg Anderson, Nebraska Soybean Board: A Nebraska soybean farmer and long-time biodiesel advocate, Greg Anderson is considered an inspiration for his fulltime devotion to fellow soybean farmers. He has served in more volunteer roles than can be named, but a few include; past chairman of the United Soybean Board, board member on the Nebraska Soybean Board, a long-time representative of NSB to the National Biodiesel Board, former NBB technical committee chair, current NBB marketing committee chair, and he was recently re-elected as NBB secretary. In August, while working on his fifth-generation family farm, he suffered a near-fatal accident and was severely burned on his head, back, arms, and hands. While the physical recovery from his painful injuries was spectacular, even more so was how incredibly positive, grateful and upbeat he remained throughout the process. His tremendous attitude, along with his selfless service to the biodiesel industry, is truly inspirational.

Pioneer Award – Dallas Hanks: The biodiesel industry lost a true pioneer last June with the passing of Utah State University’s Dr. Dallas Hanks. Dallas was a brilliant scientist, educator, humanitarian, entrepreneur, and all around good person. He spearheaded the visionary feedstock program Freeways to Fuels, was a huge supporter and contributor to NBB’s Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program. He had a hand in numerous oilseed test plots, biodiesel laboratories, and technology start-up business at the university and around the region. The respect he had from his peers was second to none, and he has left a truly lasting legacy in the biodiesel world.

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