Measurement and Testing
What Are The Alternative Fuels for Cars? - Biofuel
Nov 25 2018 Read 597 Times
Whether it’s rising fuel costs or the environmental impact of conventional fuels, a lot of people are considering alternative fuels. In our 6-part series, we’re looking at some of the alternative fuels out there and exploring their pros, cons, how they work and whether they’re viable.
In this post, we’re exploring the idea of using chip fat or corn to power your vehicle. Seems absurd, right? Well, it’s essentially what biofuel-powered vehicles do. Keep reading as we discuss all thing’s biofuel – how it’s made, the costs and benefits and whether it’s an option for you…
What is biofuel?
Biofuel is by no means a new solution to fuelling cars. Back at the start of the 20th century, Henry Ford himself planned on fuelling his Model Ts with ethanol, and early diesel engines are thought to have run on peanut oil. But how exactly does the alternative fuel work?
Biofuel is a renewable alternative to fossil fuels. It’s primarily made from plant materials, such as oils for biodiesel and sugary crops for bioethanol. Generally, biofuel is blended with petrol and diesel and used as a fuel alternative, although it can be used on its own.
Bioethanol is produced by allowing the fermentation of plants, generally corn or sugar cane, which produces the ethanol used as fuel. Biodiesel, on the other hand, is produced using chemical reactions. The most commonly used reaction is known as transesterification, which involves breaking down fats in the presence of methanol. This breaks down the oily substances and produces an energy source.
The primary benefit of using biofuel is that it is renewable. As we all know, petrol and diesel are made from fossil fuels, which aren’t going to last forever. So, the need for an alternative, sustainable solution is more vital than ever. Biofuel is made from plants and produce, which can be grown as and when they’re needed, meaning it can continue to be produced indefinitely.
Using biofuel can also help to reduce greenhouse gases, slowing global warming and helping to protect our environment. Similarly, biofuels cause less pollution to our planet. Any carbon dioxide produced is absorbed by the plants grown to create the fuel, almost making is a self-sustaining system.
While biofuel can save us money in the long-term, it is quite expensive to produce in the current market. If the fuel alternative was to become more popular and demand increased, the prices may reduce and become more affordable. For now, though, the cost puts many drivers off the fuel.
A greener future
Biofuel may become a popular, affordable fuel source in the future that can solve our oil crisis and help to reduce global warming. Until then, you may want to consider a more affordable option, such as LPG – which is discussed in part 4 of our series. Alternatively, if you want to know more about conventional fuel sources like oil and gas, read the article ‘A paradigm shift for shale: the environmental, financial, and litigative impetus for produced water recycling’.
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