Mar 172009
 

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Every time there’s an increase in oil prices, people feel it, even if they don’t drive a car. Some suggest we use biofuel to lessen the impact of the rising fuel costs.

But what is biofuel, and how does it differ from fossil fuel?

Biofuel is produced from recycled elements of the food chain, and from plants. It is used in vehicles, and is considered a sustainable renewable source of energy, as compared to majority of the liquid and gas fuels which are used today. Conventional fuels are fossil-based, and there are limited sources available. These sources are depleting fast, and if we don’t find a good replacement, one day our cars will basically stop running.

Types of Biofuels

Biofuels can be used in their pure forms, or they can be blended with other fossil fuels. There are two basic types: biodiesel, and bioethanol. These are currently available on the market and most engines are compatible with them. There is no need to modify one’s existing engine in order to use them.

Biodiesel

This type of biofuel is created using a process that combines oil with alcohol, in the presence of a catalyst, to produce either methyl or ethyl ester. The alcohol used can either be methanol or ethanol. The esters are then blended with the standard diesel fuel, or can be used in their pure forms (100% biodiesel). Biodiesel can replace diesel, or it can be combined with it in such a way that it helps run diesel engines with little or no modifications required. Biodiesel is said to be better for the environment because of the fact that it produces fewer emissions, while at the same time being made from renewable supplies.

Bioethanol

Bioethanol is made by oxygenating various agricultural stocks, such as sugar and starch crops. It can be used in existing engines, although a small quantity of conventional fuel is needed for cold starting. Vegetable ETBE is used at present, as a fuel additive that can enhance octane rating. The vegetable ETBE is a replacement for MTBE, which is made from unsustainable sources.

Controversy

Biofuel might appear to be a promising renewable energy solution, but there are still some issues that need to be addressed regarding its use. While its use may lower the level of carbon emissions on the planet, the production of biofuel has caused debate. The concern is whether crops should be used for fuel or be reserved for use as food.

Hopefully these problems can be resolved. Biofuel might be an inexpensive and renewable source of energy, but people certainly shouldn’t starve because of it.

For more information please visit Biofuels, where you can learn about different types of biofuels and how they are used.

You may also visit Alternative Energy to learn more about other forms of clean and alternative energy.


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 Posted by at 11:35 am