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Do Biofuels Have a Future?
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Author:  mary221 [ Tue Apr 02, 2013 7:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Do Biofuels Have a Future?

Our over-dependance on an increasingly dwindling supply of fossil fuels has prompted a huge amount of research into alternative energy sources, with biofuels being one such means of energy. However, there are currently many downsides to this type of energy, including environmental, financial, and ethical concerns, which raise the question of whether there is any sort of future for biofuels.

What are biofuels?
Technically, biofuels are fuels created from living matter or the waste they produce, including wood and straw, pellets or liquids made from wood, methane extracted from animal faeces, and ethanol and diesel made from plant materials of waste oil. Today, the majority of biofuels are in the latter category, with ethanol and diesel made from processing, primarily, corn, sugarcane and rapeseed.

The history of biofuels
In its solid form, biofuels have been used since man first discovered fire. Wood is the earliest form of biofuel and was used by early man to cook and keep warm. Before fossil fuels were discovered to be a wonder fuel, wood was even used to produce electricity. Since then, biofuels have largely been used in the automotive industry and early cars such as the Model T Ford and the first diesel engine were designed to run on biofuels. As with electricity, the discovery of efficient and relatively cheap fossil fuels reduced the usage of biofuels in vehicles. More recently, thanks to the rising price and ever-diminishing supplies of fossil fuels, interest in sustaining rural development, and concerns over greenhouse gas emissions, biofuels have come back into the spotlight again as an alternative means of energy.

Environmental and ethical concerns
In theory, biofuels are less polluting than fossil fuels. Burning biofuels may produce carbon dioxide but growing the plants should combat that by absorbing a comparable amount of gas from the atmosphere. However, the energy used to farm and process the fuels can make them just as polluting as conventional fossil fuels. There are also concerns that biodiversity may be harmed as great swathes of land, including rainforest rich with plant and animal species, are cleared to grow crops. There could be a human as well as an environmental cost, if biofuels compete for land with the agricultural sector and divert food from human mouths to engines.

So is there a future for biofuels?
If a shift to electric cars occurs, liquid biofuels would have no place but in aviation (jet engines need the high energy density that only chemical fuels can provide). However, use biofuels in power stations to generate electricity and there could still be a place for them. Second generation biofuels focus on the processing of agricultural, industrial, and municipal solid waste so that no further crops need to be grown and harvested. The technology to process the cellulose in plant waste is still in development but its success or otherwise will determine whether biofuels have a future. Until then, energy providers are working tirelessly to supply renewable energies of all types to homes and businesses across the globe.

Author:  Iowanic [ Wed Apr 03, 2013 9:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Biofuels Have a Future?

Certainly, they would be a step in the right direction.
The trick is to make sure they're part of a recycling system.....
Using used cooking oils rather the growing corn solely for bio-fuel use would make more sense, methinx....

Author:  Johhny Electriglide [ Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Biofuels Have a Future?

The main thing is to reduce all HGHG emissions 90% within a decade, max. Or ecocide. :shock: :cry: :mrgreen:
Nice cut and paste first post with no intro mary221. :razz:

Author:  mary221 [ Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Biofuels Have a Future?

Johhny Electriglide wrote:
The main thing is to reduce all HGHG emissions 90% within a decade, max. Or ecocide. :shock: :cry: :mrgreen:
Nice cut and paste first post with no intro mary221. :razz:


Haha.. I have written this last week and thought to post it here. My friend told me about this forum and joined it to share my work :-({|= I am finding this forum very interesting and useful to enhance my knowledge on Environmental Issues. :idea:

Author:  mary221 [ Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Biofuels Have a Future?

Iowanic wrote:
Certainly, they would be a step in the right direction.
The trick is to make sure they're part of a recycling system.....
Using used cooking oils rather the growing corn solely for bio-fuel use would make more sense, methinx....


Agree with you.. I also always appreciate and promote 3Rs for better environment - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle..

Author:  Wayne Stollings [ Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Biofuels Have a Future?

The future of biofuels is unfortunately limited. We currently could not hope to replace any significant portion of the energy consumption with biofuels so it is more of a niche market than a viable energy source to replace fossil fuels.

A combination of various renewable energy sources can be combined to replace a larger portion of the mobile sources, but the limitations of current technology seems to make it merely a stop gap effort now.

Author:  ralfy [ Fri Apr 05, 2013 12:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Biofuels Have a Future?

Biofuels have much lower EROEIs, may eat up food supply, etc.

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