Nowadays, there is an increasing concern with the issue on problems generated by the use of petroleum products. For instance, a problem with carbon dioxide emissions has been an on-going concern all over the world because of its link with climate change. Unfortunately, petroleum is used for transportation, which is also producing a chain of problems including asthma and other disorders due to exhausts from diesel.
With all these in mind, it may be worth looking into the possibility of using a renewable, biological-based products that can replace gasoline, diesel fuel and other pollutants. Thus, biofuel gets into the limelight as a potential investment in supplying the world’s need for energy without causing serious damages to the planet.
Biofuel Key Facts
Biomass is the source of bio-based products including biofuels. Basically, biomass pertains to living and dead organic and biologic matters that are used for industrial production, as well as fuel. These materials include manure, sugarcane and wood, to name a few.
It is also important to note that there are different categories of biofuels such as biodiesel and ethanol. Both of these can be used in transportation, although the sources vary. Biodiesel come from soybeans while ethanol is from either sugarcane or corn.
There are also other types of biomass used for producing heat or electricity such as methane obtained from manure piles for electricity or heat production and wood chips burned to generate steam from boiling water. This produces electricity through the spinning of turbines.
Biofuels are used for different purposes such as to produce electricity and for operating vehicles. These can take the place of oil that is used in running trucks or cars that rely on refined oil. As for electricity, there is an eco-friendly option instead of using nuclear power and coal. Wind turbines and solar power may be used to provide electricity for commercial or residential settings.
Uses of Biofuel
Considering the increasing concern with climate change, global warming and immense level of pollution, scientists are conducting research on a safer, cleaner and greener option to nuclear power, coal and traditional means of supplying the world’s energy needs. Here are the possible functions of biofuel and uses, as well as potential environmental concerns that come with it.
According to researchers, there is about 25 percent demand on energy when it comes to transportation, and about 62 percent of oil is consumed. About 2/3 of this amount of energy is burned for the sake of operating vehicles, and the remaining percentage goes to infrastructure, harvesting of raw materials and manufacturing. Also, over 70 percent of energy consumed goes into transportation, with a higher rate devoted to operating private cars.
At present, there is not a huge amount of oil left, and this can lead to serious problems unless there is a better alternative to it. Although solar and wind are some popular alternatives to oil, some claim that these are not practical sources. It requires more amounts of stored electricity from these sources to power vehicles. Hence, scientists are aiming to find the best replacement fuel that contains similar qualities in oil without causing adverse effects to the environment.
Biofuels, such as algae-based ones, have been one of the proposed alternatives to oil. It was noted that algae contain lipid, which may be transformed into methanol, butanol, ethanol and diesel. Since algae naturally absorb carbon dioxide throughout the production of lipid, there is expected to be a minor effect on the environment. Also, biofuels are biodegradable, which means there is minimal harm in case they spill (unlike the adverse damages caused by fossil fuels).
Alternative energy is largely needed to produce electricity, which is the main use of fuel. A high percentage of energy comes from coal (41 percent), and the remaining percentages are from natural gas (21 percent), hydro, nuclear and oil sources. After fuel is burned, a small amount of 39 percent is responsible for producing energy while the remaining ones are lost and released as heat. Just 3 percent of the heat lost is used for the purpose of co-generation.
Based on estimates by researchers, at least 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from power generation, and the other percentage comes from transportation. Since coal produces sulfur dioxide, it is responsible for acid rain production. With this in mind, there is a need for a renewable and clean form of energy that will not deplete the earth’s natural resources or damage the planet.
Biofuels offer an environmental-friendly solution to this concern with pollution and emissions linked with power generation. In fact, in the United Kingdom, landfill gas is used to power as much as 350,000 households. Yet, there are further studies to be done since one concern is the fact that the supply may not be enough to meet the world’s energy demands.