To avoid the use of fossil fuels that cause an increase in global warming due to of greenhouse gas emissions, every day more research is being carried out and other types of alternative energies are being developed, such as the renewable energies that we know.
Among renewable energies there are numerous types: solar, wind, geothermal, hydraulic, biomass, etc. Biofuel energy It is a type of renewable energy that is obtained through organic matter and that can replace fossil fuels. Do you want to know more about biofuel energy?
Origins and history of biofuel energy
The biofuels They are not as new as they are believed to be, but were born almost in parallel with the Fossil fuels and combustion engines.
More than 100 years ago, Rudolf Diesel created a prototype of an engine that used peanut or peanut oil, which later became diesel fuel, but since oil was easier and cheaper to obtain, this fossil fuel began to be used.
In 1908 Henry Ford in his Model T used ethanol in its principles. Another interesting project for the time is that the Standard oil company in the period from 1920 to 1924 sold a gasoline with 25% of ethanol, but the high costs of corn made this product economically unviable.
In the 30s, Ford and others tried to revive biofuel manufacturing so they built a biofuel plant in Kansas that produced around 38.000 liters of ethanol per day based on the use of corn as a raw material. At this time, more than 2000 service stations that sold this product.
In the 40s this plant had to be closed since it could not compete with the prices of the oil.
In the 70s as a consequence of the oil crisis The US begins again mixing gasoline and ethanol, giving an important boom to biofuels that has not stopped growing from these years to the present in this country but also in Europe.
Until the mid-80s, people were working and experimenting with first and second generation biofuels based on food crops, but various sectors emerged that warned of the danger of using food to make fuel.
Faced with this situation, a search began for alternative raw materials that do not affect food safety such as algae and other vegetables that are not edible giving rise to third generation biofuels.
Biofuels will be the protagonists of the XNUMXst century because they are more ecological than fossils.
Biofuel as renewable energy
Since the industrial revolution, humans have supported and promoted science and technology with energy that comes from fossil fuels. These are oil, coal and natural gas. Despite the efficiency of these energies and their energy power, these fuels are finite and are running out at an accelerating rate. In addition, the use of these fuels generates greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere that retain more heat in it and contribute to global warming and climate change.
For these reasons, an attempt is made to find alternative energies that help alleviate the problems associated with the use of fossil fuels. In this case, biofuels are considered a type of renewable energy, since they are produced from the biomass of plant matter. Plant biomass, unlike oil, does not take millions of years to produce, but rather on a scale controllable by humans. Biofuels are also often produced from crops that can be replanted.
Among biofuels we have ethanol and biodiesel.
Ethanol as a biofuel
Ethanol it is the best known biofuel in the world. It is produced from corn. Ethanol is typically mixed with gasoline in order to create an efficient and cleaner fuel for use in vehicles. About half of all gasoline in the United States is E-10, a mixture of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline. E-85 is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline and is used to power flex-fuel vehicles.
As it is produced from corn, we can say that it is renewable, since corn plantations are being renewed. This helps make it a non-depleting source like oil or coal. It also has the advantage that it helps in greenhouse gas emissions, since during corn production, photosynthesis takes place and they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.
Biodiesel is another type of biofuel that is produced from both new and used vegetable oils and some animal fats. Biodiesel has been quite famous and has spread all over the world thanks to many people started to make their own fuel at home to avoid spending too much on refueling your vehicles.
Biodiesel can be used in many diesel-powered vehicles without much engine modification. However, older model diesel engines may require some overhaul before they can handle biodiesel. In recent years a small biodiesel industry has grown within the United States and biodiesel is already available at some service stations.
Advantages of using biofuel energy
There are many advantages that we obtain from using biofuel energy. Among those advantages we have:
- It is a type of renewable energy and is produced locally. This helps with transportation and storage costs, in addition to reducing gas emissions into the atmosphere.
- It helps us reduce human dependence on oil or another type of fossil fuel.
- For countries that do not produce oil, the existence of biofuel helps the economy, since in places like this oil prices only go up.
- Ethanol, being an oxygenate in gasoline, improves its octane rating considerably, which helps decontaminate our cities and reduce greenhouse gases.
- Ethanol has an octane rating of 113 and it burns better at high compressions than gasoline. This gives more power to the engines.
- Ethanol acts as an antifreeze in engines, improving cold engine starting and preventing freezing.
- By coming from agricultural sources, the value of the products increases, increasing the income of rural inhabitants.
Disadvantages of using biofuel energy
Although the advantages are quite obvious and positive, the use of biofuel energy also has certain disadvantages such as:
- Ethanol burns 25% to 30% faster than gasoline. This causes it to have a lower price.
- In many countries biofuel is produced from sugar cane. Once the products have been collected, the harvest canes are burned. This causes emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, which increases global warming, since they are two greenhouse gases due to their power to retain heat. Therefore, what we save in emissions on the one hand, we emit on the other.
- When ethanol is produced from corn, natural gas or coal is used to produce steam during its production. What's more, Nitrogen fertilizers and herbicides are spilled in the corn cultivation process that pollute the waters and soils. This could be solved by using organic or at least ecological agricultural production systems. CO2 from distilleries can also be used to produce algae (which in turn can be used to produce biofuels). In addition, if there are farms nearby, the methane from manure can be used to produce steam (in essence this is equivalent to using biogas to produce biofuel).
As you can see, the biofuel energy it advances in its path as one more renewable energy. However, there are many improvements and development that it needs to become the new source of energy for vehicles around the world.