The rapidly decreasing number of fossil fuels as well as the environmental concerns around carbon dioxide emissions results in the need to find renewable and eco-friendly energy sources.
According to Darren Dohme, biofuels are the answer to this problem.
What are Biofuels by Darren Dohme
Biofuels are any fuels that are generated from biomass. As the name suggests, biofuels refer to fuels that are made of biological products (‘mass’), and are usually made of plant material or animal waste.
According to Darren Dohme, since both of these can be replenished quite easily, they are considered to be renewable. Biofuels are also considered to be a very cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to most other energy sources.
The use of biofuels also comes with another unexpected benefit, which is the potential removal of stored biowaste, but comes with some concerns as well. Darren Dohme explains that there is rising concern around the costs associated with the production process, as well as the large amount of land that will no longer be used for food production.
Still, biofuels seem to be a better alternative to fossil fuels.
Darren Dohme Explains the Types of Biofuels
Solid biofuels are the ones that can be used as-is – that is, they do not need to undergo any further processing before they are used. Wood, for example, is a biomass but can be used directly. By burning food, heat is produced, which can be used to run generators in power plants and produce electricity.
Besides wood, other biomass like certain grasses can also be used the same way, and a number of existing power plants do use them.
Liquid biofuels are quite useful due to the way infrastructure is designed. Darren Dohme explains that it would be quite difficult to use solid biofuels for transportation due to the number of cars in existence that use liquid fuel to run.
Ethanol is the most commonly used liquid biofuel, and is produced through fermentation of starch and sugars. At the moment, this ethanol is mixed with gasoline to produce a blend of gasoline and alcohol. In the United States, the levels of gasoline in the mixture is relatively higher, but some countries like Brazil use a 100% ethanol fuel that is made from sugarcane.
Biodiesel is another commonly used liquid fuel, mostly made from oily plants and other sources of oil like waste fat from used oils.
Biodiesel is commonly made with algae and cyanobacteria and is currently being used in European countries.
Other biofuels that are common include methane gas that is released from bacterial decomposition, biogas which is released when biomass is burned in the absence of oxygen, and some other substances that are still in development like methanol or butanol.
Despite their benefits, biofuels also come with their costs, and may have some serious drawbacks associated with them regarding the way they are produced. Because of the energy spent in producing them, so far the concern is that the net gain is very little.