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National Biodiesel Day

Raise a Glass - to Rudolf Diesel!
By Grant Kimberley

It’s time to raise a glass to celebrate one of our favorite days of the year – and it’s not St. Patrick’s Day! I’m talking about National Biodiesel Day, March 18. 

We celebrate National Biodiesel Day on the anniversary of Rudolf Diesel’s birth, born on March 18, 1858, in Paris. He, of course, was the father of the pressure-ignited heat engine still known today as the diesel engine. The diesel engine had a “transformative impact” during the Industrial Revolution, delivering power much more efficiently, and thus more cheaply than coal, for diverse industries worldwide. And before petroleum became the norm, he ran early models of his engine on vegetable oil – a visionary for the possibilities of plant-based renewable fuel, like we would one day resurect in the form of biodiesel. 

“The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today,” Diesel said in 1912, “but such oils may become in the course of time as important as the petroleum and coal tar products of the present time.”

After Diesel perfected his engine, it became an almost overnight success, rapidly employed in cars, trucks, rail, shipping, factories, power plants and more. Here we are, more than a century later, and even today’s more sophisticated diesel engines are still based on the inventor’s original concept. And we’ve found a way to go full-circle, back to his original idea of a vegetable oil-based fuel, with our nation’s farmers participating in our energy supply. 

This new transformative moment is one we should all be proud to be a part of – and we look forward to the bounty of opportunities ahead of us.

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