By Luke Geiver
Interviews with Christina Borgese and Marc Privitera
When BioFuelBox, the biodiesel process technology company that designed, built and ran a 1 MMgy biodiesel facility in Idaho based on the principles of the supercritical process—high pressure and high temperatures—won the 2010 Technology Pioneer award from the World Economic Forum, one could argue that a new beginning in biodiesel production methods for alternative feedstocks was set. After all, look at the success of some of the previous winners, most you've probably heard of. In 2010, along with BioFuelBox, the social media company Twitter received the same award. In 2007, it was Mozilla and, in 2006, Amryis Biotechnologies received the award. If these don't make a compelling case that the supercritical process for biodiesel production was well on its way to becoming the norm after the 2010 award, consider the winners in 2002, Google and PayPal.
“We took a technology that had been done in labs, and we took it to full scale,” says Christina Borgese, former senior engineer for BioFuelBox. “We were selling product to a corporation that said we had the best biodiesel they’d ever seen.” Unfortunately, that World Economic Forum award didn’t come with a guarantee for future economic prosperity, and today, BioFuelBox is no more, a victim of an extremely difficult financial climate seen in 2010 within the biodiesel industry: an innovative company all but forgotten. Borgese, who says “it was a big accomplishment to have scaled supercritical beyond the lab bench,” is now co-founder, senior engineer and president of PreProcess Inc., along with her partner and other co-founder Marc Privitera, who was also formerly on the BioFuelBox team.