What is biofuel?
Biofuels are renewable sources of fuel consisting of or derived from biomass (recently living organisms or their metabolic byproducts). Technically even fossil fuels are derived from long-dead biological materials, but before considering it a biofuel as rising gas prices may indicate, they are hardly renewable, a major drawback.
Liquid biofuels that are produced from plants and algae are usually in the form of ethanol or oil. Sugars and carbohydrates that come from corn and sugar cane are fermented into alcohol. Triglycerides and fatty acids for biodiesel are derived mainly from soybean or rapeseed (also called canola oil). These two aforementioned biofuels are first generation biofuels. Advanced biofuels include cellulosic ethanol, ethanol from sugar/starch (that does NOT come from corn), ethanol from waste material, and oils from algae and other feedstock. Other biofuels that aren’t as common include biogas, hydrogen, and biomass burned for electricity.
How are biofuels made?
All biofuels have a commonality: the energy originally came from the sun! The suns energy is captured through photosynthesis by the plants/algae, stored in the cells and can be used as feedstock for biofuel production. Photosynthesis is important in the biological conversion of sunlight energy into chemical energy, where the final product is organic matter (carbohydrates, proteins and lipids).
In the 1800’s, discoveries of huge petroleum deposits kept gasoline and diesel prices low, but with growing concerns on carbon dioxide effects on climate change and shrinking supplies of oil resources …the popularity of biofuels is gaining energy.
From an environmental perspective, biofuels are renewable and can be developed sustainably. Unlike underground oil reserves, crops can grow quickly.
Plants require carbon dioxide as they grow which naturally negates the emissions from cars using biodiesel. Plus biofuels burn 75% cleaner than conventional fossil-fuel petroleum diesel.
Biofuels increase domestic energy security. The U.S. uses about 20 million barrels of oil per day and almost half that number is imported. From an economic perspective, biofuels can boost the profitability of domestic agriculture and build new opportunities in fuel conversion industries.
With so many opportunities to create a sustainable energy supply… The power of Biofuels is where our energy can grow!