Alternate Fuel 


Biofuels - What Are They?

Biofuels - What Are They?

Author: Mike Sullivan


Biofuels are fuels that can be created when some biological materials decompose. They are primarily derived from plants, and can be formed as solids, liquids or gases.

Bio-fuels are different from fossil fuels in the following ways: 1. Fossil fuels take millions of years to make whereas bio-fuels can be made extremely fast, in a matter of days. 2. Fossil fuels generate huge amounts of pollution. Bio-fuels are comparatively safer. 3. Bio-fuels are renewable sources of energy unlike fossil fuels.

Bio-fuels have been categorized into four types: first generation, second generation, third generation, and fourth generation.

The first generation bio-fuels are derived from vegetable fats, starch, and sugar, which are in turn derived from food-crops. The first generation fuels are also derived from animal fats. Biogas, bio-diesel, and vegetable oil are some examples of this type of bio-fuels.

The 2nd generation of biofuels are derived from waste biomass. This would include oil, alcohols and diesels made from things such as felled trees.

The third generation comprises of bio-fuels derived from algae. Algae are farmed on large scales for creating these bio-fuels. The algae fuels are extremely environment-friendly as they can easily decompose into the soil without harming it.

The 4th generation of biofuels are those made from excretions of microorganisms. The microorganisms are farmed in large scale reactors and excrete chemicals that can be used as fuel.

Advantages of biofuels include: 1. They reduce the burden on fossil fuels which will one day run out. 2. They are eco-friendly, unlike many bio fuels, and will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions. 3. They can be very cost effective when used correctly.

Disadvantages of bio-fuels include: 1. Economists have long debated on the usefulness of first generation bio-fuels when compared to the food that could be grown instead. Generating fuel from food crops makes food crops unworthy of human consumption. Some people believe that being a higher priority than fuel, food should not be farmed for making fuels but for human consumption. 2. Making bio-fuels require acres of farming land, thus encroaching upon the natural habitat of plants and animals.

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