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  • Why Do We Use Biofuels?

Why Do We Use Biofuels?

Apr 28 2021

Biofuels are revolutionising the way we power everything from personal vehicles to commercial jet planes. So why do we use biofuels? Below we explore some of the key benefits of distilling fuel from organic matter.

Before we dive in let’s take a moment to define biofuels and what makes them unique.

Defining biofuels

Biofuels are fuels produced using biomass, as opposed to fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas which require lengthy geological processes. Feedstocks must be organic and can include both plant matter and animal waste.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) describes biofuels as the following:

“Biofuels are transportation fuels such as ethanol and biomass-based diesel fuel that are made from biomass materials. These fuels are usually blended with petroleum fuels (gasoline and distillate/diesel fuel and heating oil), but they can also be used on their own.”

Some of the most important benefits of biofuels are listed below.

Slashing CO2 emissions

When burnt, traditional fossil fuels produce huge amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Biofuels are much cleaner, with research suggesting they emit 65% less greenhouse gas. “Ethanol and biodiesel are also cleaner-burning fuels than pure gasoline and diesel fuel,” states the EIA.

Recycling waste products

Biofuels have emerged as a clever way to transform waste into energy. For example, in the United States some companies are transforming by-products from beer breweries into biofuel.

Reducing dependence on imports

Manufacturing biofuels can be a savvy way for countries to reduce their dependence on foreign oil imports. The USA is a big advocate for biofuels, with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) introducing economic incentives to encourage R&D and help the country increase biofuel production to 36 billion gallons by 2022. 

“Using ethanol or biodiesel reduces the consumption of gasoline and diesel fuel made from crude oil, which can reduce the amount of crude oil imported from other countries,” asserts the EIA.

While the USA has a healthy supply of oil other countries don’t enjoy the same resources. This makes biofuel production an attractive industry for countries such as Japan, which has very little oil but a big agricultural industry that could be used to produce biofuel.

Renewable energy

Oil takes a minimum of 50 million years to form though is burned in combustion engines in a matter of seconds. In comparison, matter sourced from crops such as corn and soybeans are regularly replenished. This makes biofuel a renewable source of energy that doesn’t drain the world’s natural resources.

As well as developing new biofuels, scientists are also exploring the role wear protection and lubrication plays in reducing CO2 emissions. Dr. Raj Shah, an expert at Koehler Instrument Company, explores the study of tribology further in ‘Sustainability as it relates to Carbon dioxide emissions, friction and wear.

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