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Iowa Lab Becomes First in World to Earn BQ-9000 Accreditation

A state-of-the-art laboratory in Fort Dodge, Iowa has raised the bar on biodiesel fuel quality testing, and other labs are likely to follow its lead. The nonprofit Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory has become the first to earn accreditation as a B

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Designation sets national trend in biodiesel fuel quality

A state-of-the-art laboratory in Fort Dodge, Iowa has raised the bar on biodiesel fuel quality testing, and other labs are likely to follow its lead.

The nonprofit Iowa Central Fuel Testing Laboratory has become the first to earn accreditation as a BQ-9000 laboratory.

The National Biodiesel Board congratulated the lab on completing the rigorous process.

"Not every biodiesel plant has an onsite laboratory to test fuel, so there is a need for qualified, credible laboratories to test fuel samples," said Steve Howell, NBB technical director. "This will help streamline the process of ensuring only high quality biodiesel makes it into the commercial marketplace."

Housed at Iowa Central Community College, the nonprofit lab offers cost-effective, rapid testing for biodiesel producers nationwide, as well as petroleum distributors and government agencies tasked with fuel quality monitoring. The lab also tests other fuels like ethanol and petroleum.

BQ-9000 is a voluntary biodiesel 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. To date, 62 biodiesel producers and marketers are now BQ-9000 certified companies, representing 75-80 percent of the U.S. biodiesel production volume.

The laboratory designation is new.

"Pursuing BQ-9000 was a good business decision," said Don Heck, ICFTL director. "Anyone can set up a lab, but how do you set up a lab with teeth? This gives us instant credibility compared to our competitors."

Heck said what sealed the deal was an effort to earn the business of the Iowa Department of Agriculture's Weights and Measures Bureau. The agency is tasked with fuel quality monitoring, including biodiesel, and it is required by law to work with an accredited facility for testing fuel from retail pumps.

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.

A combination of federal and state funding helped secure more than $2 million for the lab. The college thanked the National Biodiesel Board, Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa Biodiesel Board for their support and leadership in making the lab a reality.

The groups helped conceptualize and develop the lab to help ensure the training, public awareness and testing needs of the biodiesel industry and consumers are met.