A type of fuel in which the energy is derived from the biological process of carbon fixation. The biggest difference between biofuel and fossil fuel is the time period over which the fixation occurs and the source from which it is obtained.
What is Biofuel?
Biofuels are produced from biomass like straw, tree barks, dried leaves and wood, which are delivered by direct combustion of dry matter and later converted into liquid and gaseous fuel. Wet organic matters like sewage, sludge and vegetable oil matter may also be converted into biofuels by a wet process like digestion and fermentation. There are three solid biofuels: wood, straw, and domestic refuse, which are used to provide useful heat. Biofuels can also be produced by living organisms, including edible sugars and starches, from non-edible plant materials and also from algae and microbes.
Also Refer: Fermentation: Anaerobic Respiration
In general, these biofuels mainly include fuels like biodiesel, bioethanol, and bio-methanol. The main fact behind the use of these biofuels is it helps in maintaining a cleaner environment and a healthier population. There are a lot of interesting facts about Biofuels, which are not known to everyone.
Let us have a look at a few of them.
Biofuels are environment-friendly as they reduce the risk of global warming and the greenhouse effect. There is no emission of hazardous gases, such as carbon monoxide (CO) and sulfur oxide (SO).
Bio-ethanol is made from the fermentation of plant starch. It is a clean gas with no toxins, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions as well (GHG’s). This is also a byproduct of the chemical reaction with ethylene and other types of petroleum products.
By the use of biofuels rather than fossil fuels, only the emission of nontoxic materials takes place, which reduces the risk of cancer, allergies and other breathing problems in human beings.
The regular use of biofuels not only protects the environment by reducing the emissions from the vehicles but also improves engine life of the vehicles.
Biodiesel is a renewable resource made from reused cooking oil, vegetable oil, palm oil, soybean, canola oil, peanut oil, animal fat, fatty acids and by other plants and plant products, which produces both fats and oils.
Coffee grounds, animal dung, agricultural wastes, food wastes, biodegradable wastes and other municipal wastes can be used as a source for producing biofuels.
Also Refer: Biodegradable and Non-Biodegradable Substances
Biofuel is generally available in all regions of the world. From the last few years, the jatropha – a source of biofuel is cultivated in many regions of the world.
According to the records collected in the year 2009, Pakistan is the leading country in developing biofuel energy resources in the world and it is considered as pure and the easiest available fuels on the planet earth.
Biofuels play a significant role in protecting the environment by lowering the amount of air pollution and therefore contributing less to smog and acid rain.
On average, 20 to 22 billion gallons of ethanol fuel is produced every year by the United States and hence it is considered as the world’s largest bioethanol producer.
Bioethanol is more popular in the Americas while biodiesel is more popular in Europe.
Biofuel can be a liquid, a solid or a gas and can power cars and other vehicles.
Biodiesel is used in other petroleum-based diesel in order to reduce emissions and improve engine life. About 1 billion gallons of biodiesel are produced annually.
Ethanol is added to gasoline to improve octane and reduce emissions. Along with the United State, Brazil also produces 80 to 85 per cent of the world’s fuel ethanol.
Biodiesel is not toxic or flammable and is biodegradable. It has the highest energy balance of any fuel. 3.2 units of energy are gained for every one unit of fossil energy needed to produce biodiesel.
Algae is also used in the production of biofuel. Here, algae play a vital role by converting carbon dioxide gas into fuel. Some of the algae also store energy in the form of natural oils. The fuel obtained from the algae are called algae fuel or algal biofuel, or algal oil
Primary biofuels are the non-processed or natural form of fuels obtained from different sources, which include wood chips, pellets, or fuelwood.
Secondary biofuels are the well-processed fuels obtained from biomass to produce usable biofuels such as biodiesel and ethanol.
Other biofuels include bio-ethers, methanol, solid biofuels and re-formulated gasoline and its components. Methanol is commonly called wood alcohol and is produced from natural gases.
Green Diesel, is also a type of biofuel, which is produced by hydrocracking oil and fat feedstock and is chemically identical to fossil fuel diesel.
Also Read: Biotechnology In Agriculture
This article concludes an introduction to Biofuels and its amazing facts. To know more about the Biofuels, their types, applications, how they are different from other fuels, and other related topics and important questions, keep visiting our website at BYJU’S Biology.