An Introductory Writing on Biofuel: 4 Minutes Reading of the Inferior Ecological Alternative Fuel

An Introductory Writing on Biofuel: 4 Minutes Reading of the Inferior Ecological Alternative Fuel

Biofuel is any kind of fuel that is derived from biomass, one of the well-known fuel that came from these substances is biodiesel. It’s capable to serve the same purpose like any other fuel, such as vehicle power source. However, the use of biofuel still hasn’t dethrone gasoline as people’s fuel of choice, even though biofuel is easier to harvest, sustainable, and dare we say, eco-friendly. This fuel came from natural resources, such as vegetable oils, liquid animal fats, algae, and even animal droppings, we shall discuss it here in this article.

Biofuel and How We Acquire Them

Like we mentioned before, biofuel is the fuel that contains energy and is derived from plants, animal fat, or biomass. This fuel can be made purely from vegetable or animal fat, for example, palm oil is the main ingredient of biofuel in Indonesia, in which they’re rich of it. It can also be made out of a mixture between petroleum-based diesel oil and Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME). Fuel that is made out of FAME is what we call biodiesel, it can be made purely from FAME or to be mixed with petroleum-based diesel oil.

Biofuel plant

Photo is taken from: Planète Énergies
Photo is taken from: Planète Énergies

For example, B30 biodiesel is made out of the mixture of 30% FAME and 70% petroleum-based diesel oil. Biodiesel is made out of renewable sources and is a cleaner-burning replacement for petroleum-based diesel fuel. Another biofuel that’s commonly used by people is ethanol (CH3CH2OH). it’s a renewable fuel that can be made from various plant materials, collectively known as “biomass.” Before it’s ready to be used as a fuel, ethanol is mixed with gasoline to increase octane and cut down carbon monoxide and other smog-causing emissions.

The most common ethanol blend is E10, which contains 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline. Plant materials for the ingredients of ethanol is plant starches and sugars, it’s indeed quite a waste to use edible ingredients for this. However, scientists are beginning to develop technologies that would allow us to utilize the cellulose and hemicellulose of plants, the non-edible fibrous material that constitutes the bulk of plant matter. In order to convert biomass into ethanol, fermentation process is required, to let microorganisms metabolize plant sugars.

In general, in order to convert the raw materials into biofuel, we can use methods such as deconstruction and upgrading. Deconstruction is required to produce advanced biofuels (cellulosic ethanol for example). This process is required to broke down the tough rigid structure of the plant cell wall. There’s to ways to do this, High-Temperature Deconstruction which require extreme heat and pressure to break down solid biomass into liquid or gas, and Low-Temperature Deconstruction which require enzymes or chemicals for the breakdown.

Raw materials such as crude bio-oils, syngas, sugars, and other chemical building blocks must be upgraded to produce a finished product. This method will involve either biological or chemical processing. Microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeast, and cyanobacteria, will ferment sugar or gaseous materials into fuel blendstocks and chemicals. Alternatively, sugars and bio-oil may be processed by using a catalyst to remove any unwanted or reactive compounds in order to improve storage and handling properties.

How Do We Utilize Biofuel

Biofuel can be utilized exactly the same like what fossil fuels does, such as transportation fuel and energy generation. Biofueled vehicle has clean, low carbon emission as the biomass neutralize the emission quite a bit. We can also covert this fuel into another energy we desire, like any other fuel does. It provide electricity and heat in facilities such as schools, hospitals and residential area. Not many knew this, but this fuel is capable to clean up oil spills and grease, as oil spills on the ocean happened quite often.

We also wrote an article about natural gas, you read it here: Sustainable Natural Gas as a Riveting Alternative Fuel: 4 Minutes Reading of Natural Gas Facts

Biodiesel station

Photo is taken from: National Biodiesel Board
Photo is taken from: National Biodiesel Board

However, it seems like biofuel haven’t dethrone gasoline, as people still prefer to utilize regular gasoline over biodiesel. Apparently, there are weakness in biodiesel that makes people lose interest in this eco-friendly fuel. The fuel sure is cheap, but has low fuel efficiancy compared to fossil fuels. The fuel is depleted quite fast, and it won’t take you far enough, so even though it is cheaper, you will have keep buying in a short time. So perhaps it would be difficult for biofuel to top gasoline if it hasn’t give the same satisfaction for the people.

For more explanation about why fossil fuel is still on top choice, you can read: Why Biofuels can’t replace oil, By Jude Clemente, June 17th 2015

1 Comment

Post A Comment