WHAT IS BIOFUEL?

Biofuel is fuel from organic material (biomass). The fuel either comes directly or indirectly from those materials via special processes. Organic materials can include those that come from plants or even animal waste. Basically, biofuels provide us with bioenergy. Overall this fuel type takes care of around 10 % of the world’s energy needs.

WHERE DOES BIOFUEL COME FROM?

Due to the updates in current technology, biofuels can be pulled out of a variety of materials.  Examples of common biofuel base products include waste, wood, or crops. Furthermore, biofuel can be in the form of either a liquid, solid, or gas.

There are both primary and secondary biofuels. First, primary biofuels come from organic materials used in their natural forms. Examples include firewood, wood chips, or pellets. Next, secondary biofuels come from organic material that is processed.  Common examples include bio-oil, ethanol, or biodiesel.

People use primary biofuels mostly for cooking, heating, and electricity.  We use secondary biofuels most often for motor vehicles and large-scale manufacturing. Additionally, liquid biofuel is the name common name for the secondary biofuels ethanol and biodiesel.

HOW IS ETHANOL MADE?

Any feedstock (the raw material used as fuel in manufacturing) that is high in sugar (e.g., sugar cane) or starch (e.g., wheat) is a good base to make ethanol.  Ethanol is a type of alcohol that serves as fuel. 

WHERE DOES BIODIESEL COME FROM?

Transesterification is the process that produces biodiesel. The process uses vegetable oils, animal fats, or used cooking oils. Basically, this process converts oils and fats into renewable energy.

WHAT IS GASIFICATION?

Gasification is the process of turning solid biomass into gas.  In more detail, gasification essentially turns solid organic materials such as wood into gas. We need this process for overall fuel production. Some examples include the generation of electricity and the creation of gasoline and diesel fuel.

Additional processes that create biofuels include pyrolysis and direct combustion. Pyrolysis is heating an organic material without oxygen. Direct combustion is a process that burns biomass in open air or in excess amounts of air.  Both of these processes produce what we call second-generation biofuels.

ARE BIOMASS FUELS RENEWABLE?

The use of liquid biofuels also comes with some disadvantages such as cost, industrial pollution, and global warming. In fact, the demand for these biofuels increases each day.  Unfortunately, they are also extremely expensive to produce in our current market. Not to mention, production increases our carbon footprint and contributes to pollution.

Biofuels are meant to be better for the environment. However, the production process for liquid biofuels is not environmentally friendly. The reason for this is due to the fact that making biofuel requires large amounts of both water and oil. In addition, the burning of liquid biofuels produces carbon dioxide. CO2 is a major contributor to global warming. In conclusion, despite their positives liquid biofuels leave quite a negative impression on our environment with their emissions.

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