Lab Test: ICCC Lab Becomes National Leader in Biodiesel Testing

Aug 06, 2010, 08:00 ET from Iowa Central Community College

Community college is first to earn BQ-9000 designation, driving business to the state

FORT DODGE, Iowa, Aug. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Don Heck has heard a lot of talk about making Iowa the "renewable energy capital of the world," and he thinks he's found a way to help.  

The laboratory he directs at Iowa Central Community College, in Fort Dodge, Iowa, has become the first to earn accreditation as a BQ-9000 laboratory.  It means his lab has become the national leader in testing biodiesel and biodiesel blends to ensure they meet fuel quality standards.  

"Testing fuel may not sound glamorous, but it is fundamental to the future of the biodiesel and the renewable fuels industry in terms of reliability and consumer confidence," Heck said.  

The nonprofit Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory offers cost-effective, rapid testing for biodiesel producers nationwide.  It also tests other fuels like ethanol and petroleum.  Organizers hope that its new biodiesel accreditation will help it earn the business of more customers, including the Iowa Department of Agriculture's Weights and Measures Bureau.  The bureau is charged with ensuring all types of fuel are high quality before they reach consumers' tanks.    

BQ-9000 is a voluntary quality assurance program overseen by the independent National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission.  It is already viewed as the industry's gold standard for biodiesel producers and marketers.  The laboratory designation is new.

"Having the first BQ-9000 laboratory located in Iowa will drive business to our state, and further enhances Iowa's position as a national biodiesel leader," said Randy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, which helped make the lab a reality.      

Steve Howell, National Biodiesel Board technical director, said other labs will follow suit, which will help ensure a high quality fuel supply for producers and consumers alike.

"Not every biodiesel plant has its own laboratory to test its fuel, so there is a need for qualified, credible laboratories to test fuel samples," Howell said.  "Becoming accredited is a rigorous process, and the Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory deserves our congratulations for being the first."

Among other things, earning the designation of BQ-9000 Laboratory involved creating a detailed manual that regulates the process used in every step of the lab's biodiesel testing.  A third-party auditor inspected the facility before granting accreditation.  

"People don't necessarily associate a community college with state-of-the-art laboratories, but that's exactly what we have, and this accreditation backs up our credibility," Heck said.

The lab is housed in the college's Biosciences and Health Sciences Building.  It is a LEED Gold Certified building.  Environmentally friendly biodiesel is a great fit, Heck said.  

Dr. Dan Kinney, President of ICCC, said bipartisan support from Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Tom Harkin (D- IA) as well as Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) secured more than $2 million in federal funding for the lab. The school also received $250,000 from the State, an effort led by State Representative Helen Miller (D-Fort Dodge) and other local legislators.

"We thank these legislators for working together to support a worthy goal that positions Iowa at the top when it comes to renewable fuels," Kinney said.  

Kinney also thanked the Iowa Soybean Association, National Biodiesel Board and Iowa Biodiesel Board for their support and leadership in making the lab a reality.  The groups helped conceptualize and develop the lab.

SOURCE Iowa Central Community College