What is a biofuel?

A biofuel is that fuel, which is derived organic matter or biological materials like animals and plants. There are two broad types of biofuels; biodiesel and bioethanol.

Bioethanol is the alternative energy source to gasoline while biodiesel replaces diesel fuel.

Any biofuel enthusiasts understands that they help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly, as the burning of these fuels produce carbon dioxide which helps the plants to grow. In turn, these plants absorb the harmful gases from the environment.

Sources Of Biofuels

These sources can be categorized into four main generations.

– First generation biofuels: These fuels are made from starches, sugars, animal fats and oils that can be converted into fuel using existing technologies. Examples of first generation biofuels are; biodiesel, ethanol, bioalcohols and biomass.

– Second generation biofuels: These are made from plants which are non food crops; rather, they are made from products such as wood chips, wood pellets, switch-grass and the like.

– Third generation biofuels: These are made from the fast growing biomass sources like algae.

– Fourth generation biofuels: These are made engineered plants. They are also sourced from biomass with higher yields of energy or those which have lesser barriers to the breakdown of cellulose. These plants usually grow on land or water which are not naturally ideal for agriculture.

Usually, biofuels are blended with gasoline and diesel fuel, but they can still be used as they are. Biodiesel is made from fats, vegetable oils or greases making it ready to be used in cars without having to change the car engine.

Striking a balane between biofuels

To strike a balance between the use biofuels and fossil fuels, there are certain interrelated factors that come into place; food supply, availability and cost.

The availability of fossil fuels has for years been a global concern for centuries. The extraction of this fuel by pumping it from the ground and processing it for use is a lengthy and expensive process.

Consequently, all this cost is passed on to the final consumer who shoulders the entire burden. Moreover, fossil fuels are not renewable sources of energy, meaning that they are bound to run out at one point.

On the other hand, biofuels are renewable which guarantees that there will be no shortage in supply provided we keep using organic materials as the source of energy. Unlike fossil fuels, biofuels are a cheap alternative and green energy source. By embracing green energy, we save on cost and conserve the environment at the same time.

Read more: Biofuels fueling road transport

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