by: Jenny Rivera & Marley Lucas
How is biofuel made
Natural oils from plants like oil palm, soybean, or algae can be burned directly in a diesel engine or a furnace, or blended with petroleum, to produce fuels such as biodiesel. Wood and its byproducts can be converted into liquid biofuels, such as methanol or ethanol, or into woodgas.
Advantages of biofuels
Biofuels are a renewable energy source in that they are created from plants that can be regrown each year. Biofuels also do not require many changes in cars and other places of use to be utilized. Some consider the use of biofuels as carbon neutral since the carbon produced when burning them is offset by the carbon consumed by the plants they came from. In the United States, biofuels can help reduce the dependence on foreign oils, which fluctuate in price rapidly. Biofuels may help to buffer against the change.
Disadvantages of biofuel
While some consider their use "carbon neutral," the machniery required to farm the plants for biofuels does create carbon emissions, this machinery is also typically not powered by biofuels. Research suggests despite this fact, that biofuels help to reduce carbon emissions by 50-60%.
One of the main detractors to the use of biofuels is that setting aside land for biofuel crops means less land for food production. Some foreign countries have said that it is unethical to use crops for biofuel when global hunger is an ever present problem.
If you’ve ever been near a campfire or a fireplace, you’ve witnessed biomass energy through the burning of wood
- Biomass has been around since the beginning of time when man burned wood for heating and cooking
- Wood was the biggest energy provider in the world in the 1800’s
- Biogas can also be captured and sold as fuel if not used to generate electricity on site
- Biomass is a renewable energy source because trees and crops can always be grown
Where biofuels are used.
Most commercially available biogas today in Europe is utilized from landfill waste sites. Natural-gas filling stations have recently opened up in the Netherlands, and are also used to distribute biogas. Several European countries, e.g. Sweden and Switzerland, are regularly using biogas as a transport fuel. In fact, towns like Linköping, Sweden have been utilizing biogas to run vehicles for years. In the past decade, after positive trial projects, all 50 of their public transport buses have been converted to use biogas. The world’s first biogas train travels between Linköping and Västervik. Other European towns use buses that run on biogas such as Lille, France. Eventually, the entire town fleet will be converted to run on biogas. Lille has actually begun a large-scale project in biogas production through the fermentation of organic waste at a location alongside the new bus terminal. This biogas is processed into green natural gas sufficient for 100-120 buses. In the Dutch province of Gelderland, 26 buses and over 80 other vehicles run on biogas from eight filling stations.