Biofuels are fuels derived from living sources such as plants and animals. Gasoline and diesel fuel derived from plant and animal remains decomposed over millions of years cannot be quickly replaced. Today’s biofuels derive from plants and animal matters that are harvested and promptly reproduced and replaced. Biofuels come in different forms determined by their origins and processes. Common types are solid biofuels, liquid biofuels, and gaseous biofuels. The solid biofuels refer to the raw biomass fuels, treated biomass, and the residue after the conversion of biomass. Biomass is any organic material with stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy. Biomasses can be used as fuel directly as in the use of wood or briquettes for heat or cooking. Other direct sources include materials such as wood, straw, manure, animal fat, sugar cane, and organic oils. Liquid and gaseous biofuels are both the products of biomass conversion and are known as bio-oil and syngas. Many sources of Biofuel begin as crops. The plants are either high in sugar, starch, or oils. Sugar cane, sugar beet, and sweet sorghum are high in sugar. Crops high in starch include corn and cassava. Oil-producing plants include soybeans, rapeseed, coconut, sunflowers, and palms. Producing all forms of Biofuel require cultivation, collection and harvesting, and processing and finishing. Emerging businesses compare environmental impact and productivity of each of these types as they attempt to offset reliance on non-renewable of fossil fuels.
Activity 1 – First and Second Generation Biofuels
Biomass sources-edible food stock, non-food based biomass, and aquatic biomasses categorize different generations of Biofuel. The first-generation of biofuels draws on biomass sources-edible food stock, non-food-based biomass, and marine biomasses. First-generation biofuels come from plant-based starches (wheat, barley, corn, and potatoes), sugars (sugar cane and sugar beet), and edible feedstock oils(rapeseed, soybeans, sunflower, palm, coconut, used cooking oil, animal fats) and grains high in sugar and starch fermented into Bioethanol. Seeds pressed into vegetable oils also contribute to Biodiesel. Non-food crops like waste biomass (forests and forest residue), agricultural biomass (straw, grass), energy crops (jatropha, cassava, miscanthus) and municipal solid waste (MSW) and animal manure produce hydrocarbons, fuels, hydrogen, methanol, alcohols, F-T (Fischer–Tropsch) fuel, aviation fuel, and olefins are Second Generation Biofuels. Make a chart of the sources and products of first and second-generation biofuels.
Activity 2 – Common Types of Biofuel
Ethanol, Biodiesel, Methanol and bio blends are all types of Biofuel. Of the first three, methanol is a common ingredient in some paints, cement, nail polish, ink, dyes, and some plastic products. Methanol, in general, is a blend of 85% natural gas and 15% gasoline. Pure methanol, M100, is used directly as motor fuel. It is cleaner because it does not emit nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, or hydrocarbons. It is biodegradable and is less expensive than unleaded gasoline. Methanol is natural gas, or methane, which is less flammable than fossil fuel-based gasoline. Make a chart of Biofuels and their chemical names and characteristics.
Activity 3 – Third Generation Biofuels
Third-generation biofuels are from oils extracted from biomass-aquatic-microalgae, seaweed, and other aquatic microbes. This process is algaculture. Biomass and oil from algae are achievable at a low cost with high energy yields producing up to nearly thirty times the energy per unit area as compared to first-generation biofuels. Live algae can be grown in low-quality farmland in shallow pooled areas and even in the desert using nonpotable water. Algae yield 100,000 liters of oil per hectare compared with palm oil, the next best crop producer, which delivers 5,000 liters per hectare. Make a diagram of Algaculture Biofuel production.
Activity 4 – Biofuel Production and Use Today
Renewable Biofuel production offsets reliance on non-renewable fossil fuel sources and improves the world’s carbon footprint. It also uses much more farmable land for fuel production rather than food production; with the world’s growing population, this is a problem. Algae farming may offer a progressive solution, superior to food crop production using less land for higher yields. Fourth-generation biofuels are currently being developed using emerging “synthetic biology technology. This process converts solar energy directly into biofuels using microorganisms in feedstock mixed with water and carbon dioxide. Besides, bio-blends are Biofuels that offset current gasoline and diesel mixtures. B5 is a 5% biofuel mixed with regular diesel and is currently the most common offering in the United States. B20 is a higher blend of up to 20% biofuel mixed with diesel that many cars and trucks in the United States can use. Make a chart of emerging biofuel production.
- Biofuel comes from organic biomass and biological derivatives of:
- Biofuel production aims at reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
- Ethanol is the most common biofuel used for cars and trucks.
- Algaculture occurs in
- Reducing reliance on fossil fuels will improve greenhouse gas emissions.
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