Alternative Energy Found in Biofuels

BioFuel Roadshow

Biofuels are produced by converting organic matter into fuel for powering our society. More often today, these biofuels are being used as an alternative energy source to the fossil fuels that we currently depend upon. Ethanol and derivatives of plants such as sugar cane, as well as vegetable and corn oils are all included in the aresenal of different biofuels. The International Energy Agency (IEA) tells us that ethanol could comprise up to 10 percent of the world’s usable gasoline by 2025, and up to 30 percent by 2050. Today, the percentage figure is two percent.

However, we have a long way to go to refine these biofuels that we are researching and they become extremely economical and practical. Oregon State University did a study that proves this concept. We have yet to develop biofuels that are as energy efficient as gasoline made from petroleum. Energy efficiency is the measure of how much usable energy for our needed purposes is derived from a certain amount of input energy. (Nothing that mankind has ever used has derived more energy from output than from the needed input. In other words, the end product is what we use as alternative energy and needs to be more efficent than the effort used to produce it.)

The OSU study found corn-derived ethanol to be only 20% energy efficient while gasoline made from petroleum is 75% energy efficient and biodiesel fuel was recorded at 69% energy efficient. However, the study did turn up one positive: cellulose-derived ethanol was charted at 85% efficiency, which is even higher than that of the fantastically efficient nuclear energy.
There are several nations which are seriously involved in the development of biofuels. Brazil happens to be the world’s biggest producer of ethanols derived from sugars. The country produces approximately three and a half billion gallons of ethanol per year. The United States, while being the world’s greatest oil-guzzler, is already the second largest producer of biofuels behind Brazil. The European Union’s biodiesel production capacity is now in excess of four million (British) tonnes – mostly derived from rapeseed oil; soybean oil and a marginal quantity of palm oil.

Recently, oil futures have been down on the New York Stock Exchange, as analysts from several different countries are predicting a surge in biofuel availability. This would offset the value of oil, dropping crude oil prices on the international market to somewhere around $40 per barrel. The Chicago Stock Exchange has a grain futures market which is starting to “steal” investment activity away from the oil futures in NY, as investors are definitely expecting better profitability to start coming from biofuels.

Indeed, it is predicted by a consensus of analysts that biofuels shall be supplying seven percent of the entire world’s transportation fuels by the year 2030. Demand for diesel and gasoline may slow down dramatically, says one energy markets analyst, if the government subsidizes firms distributing biofuels and further pushes to promote the use of eco-friendly fuel.

Source: solar energy

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