Biofuels – Alternative and Renewable Sources of Energy - Modified from Source: http://biofuel.org.uk/ BIOMASS
Biomass can be termed as organic material which is derived from living or more “recently deceased” organisms. The most important feature of biomass is that it is a renewable source of energy unlike other natural resources like coal, petroleum and even nuclear fuel. Biomass itself is a renewable energy source because we can always grow more trees and crops, and waste will always exist. Some examples of biomass fuels are wood, crops, manure, and some
garbage. When burned, the chemical energy in biomass is released as heat. If you have a fireplace, the wood you burn in it is a biomass fuel. Wood waste or garbage can be burned to produce steam for making electricity, or to provide heat to industries and homes.
"Biofuels" typically refer to fluid transportation fuels like ethanol, biogas and biodiesel that are made from biomass materials – but can include prepared solid biomass fuels.
These fuels are:
Often blended with the petroleum fuels - gasoline and diesel fuel, but they can also be used on their own. o Using ethanol or biodiesel means we don't burn quite as much fossil fuel.
Often more expensive than the fossil fuels that they replace but they are also cleaner burning fuels, producing fewer air pollutants and reducing the emission of the greenhouse gases.
Easily transported and can also be easily. handled
o Most vehicles require fuels which provide high power and are dense so that storage is easier. o These engines require fuels that are clean and are in the liquid form.
A way of achieving local energy security
o As an alternative to fossil fuels that can be expensive, especially when supply is limited and environmental costs are high
o As the technology to create and use biofuels has become cheaper and globally widespread. Some of the major producers and users of biogases are Asia, Europe and America.
Theoretically, biofuel can be easily produced from any carbon source – however plants with high photosynthetic rates (fast growing crops) are the most commonly used material for production. Switchgrass, soybeans and corn in United States.
Sugar cane in Brazil
Sugar beet and wheat in Europe
However there are challenges in efficiently converting the energy in solid biomass into a convenient liquid fuel There are two methods currently brought into use to solve the above problem. 1. Sugar crops or starch are grown and through the process of fermentation, ethanol is produced. 2. Plants or algae that naturally produce oils are harvested and these oils are heated (to reduce their viscosity). The heated oil can be directly used as fuel for diesel engines. This oil can be further treated to produce biodiesel.
Differences in the levels of biofuels:
1st Generation – fuel (combustible material) derived directly from naturally produced agricultural products, such as vegetable oils, bio-alcohols, biodiesel, bioesters, biogas AND solid biofuels (which is prepared biomass – dried wood, manure, etc)
2nd Gen – fuel created by converting waste biomass into (usually) usable liquid fuel – often via application of chemicals or synthesized enzymes to extract the energy from cellulose
3rd gen – algae that produce oils naturally are grown and harvested and the oil is extracted 4th gen – scientifically engineered fuels (created in a lab) created by manipulating organic chemicals or by bioengineering organisms to produce increased concentrations of fuel-like substances
First Generation Biofuels
The first generation biofuels refer to the fuels that have been derived from sources like starch, sugar, animal fats and vegetable oil. The oil is obtained using the conventional techniques of production. Some of the most popular types of first generation biofuels are:
Biodiesel: This is the most common type of biofuel commonly used in the European countries. This type of biofuel...
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