Advancements in Envrionmentally Friendly Biofuel Options

Date2015-03-25

As a growing percentage of the population becomes more energy conscious and works to reduce its carbon footprint, solutions such as the electric car have become more common and more affordable. Yet for many families, buying a new car isn't a financially sound solution. With the recent interest and growth in green fuel alternatives, options for going green are on the rise. What are Biofuels? Biofuels include any fuel derived from biological materials, such as plants and animals. Unlike other renewable energy sources, the organic matter used to create biofuel can be broken down directly into a liquid state for immediate use. An increase in the usage of biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, unlike oil, biofuels are renewable resources. Biofuels are often broken down into four generational categories and can be made from a variety of sources. As technology continues to grow, more biofuel options become available. First Generation Biofuels and Second Generation Biofuels The first generation of biofuels, often considered the conventional biofuels, covert sugar, starch, or vegetable oil into fuel using already known processes. Common first generation biofuels include biodiesel and ethanol. Second generation biofuels, or advanced biofuels, use non-food crops or agricultural waste, such as willow or wood chips, to create fuels. This method reduces harmful emissions by 60 - 80%, as much or more than conventional biofuels. However, second generation biofuels are often harder to extract than first generation. Third Generation Biofuels and Fourth Generation Biofuels The third and fourth generations of biofuels are relative newcomers to the green fuel scene. Third generation biofuels utilize algae or other quick growing organic matter while fourth generation biofuels focus on specially engineered plants and organic matter. Though still new, fourth generation biofuels focus on options that require less energy to breakdown, yield high amounts of energy, and can grow in non-agricultural land or even water. Recent Advances in Biofuels Research into third and fourth generation biofuels has the potential to provide cleaner energy without complicated extraction processes or large environmental impacts. Recent investigations have analyzed the potential of using algae from farm fertilizer runoffs, which can clog water ways and damage local aquatic life, as a green fuel alternative. Even the British Royal Family is focusing on environmentally friendly fuel options for their transportation. The company manufacturing green fuel for the Royal Family's cars and trains is now launching low-cost plane propellant that can be made from available resources such as waste cooking oil or algae. While ethanol and biodiesel remain the two most common biofuels currently in use, research and technological advancements continue to pave the way for both businesses and individuals to take advantage of cleaner, renewable energy sources and move away from a reliance on oil for energy.