Renewable Energy Series – Biofuels

Did you know that biofuels have been around for as long as cars have?  Henry Ford, the creator of Ford motors had planned to fuel his early diesel engines with peanut oil and his model Ts with ethanol.  Biofuels are gaining huge popularity again due to their more sustainable practices as global warming and oil prices become an increasing problem.  The United States is the world’s largest bioethanol producer, putting $53 million into the American economy instead of into foreign oil suppliers each year.

Biofuels are broken down into three generations:

  1. Conventional Biofuels are usually made from sugar, starch, vegetable oil and animal fats.  First generation biofuels are made from a feed stock that can also be consumed as a human food.
  2. Second generation biofuels are produced from sustainable feed stock but not used for human consumption.  But certain food products can become second generation fuels when they are no longer useful for consumption.
  3. Third generation biofuels are commonly referred to as any biofuel derived from algae

Biofuels are considered renewable since people can grow more crops to turn into fuel rather than oil reserves underground that cannot be replaced.  Even some airlines like United are trying to integrate biofuels into their energy supply to offset major carbon emissions that airlines expend.  A great incentive for using biofuels such as biodiesel is that it works with already existing engines in your car so there is no added cost of replacing parts to accommodate better fuel sources.

Check your knowledge on biofuels with this quiz from National Geographic! 

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