Top 5 Lesser Known Benefits Of Biofuel Usage
With changing times and depleting natural resources, there is a need for sustainable use of resources. In addition, it is important that we shift to renewable sources of energy. Therefore, many countries around the world have adopted biofuel technology in recent times. This is because the benefits of biofuel usage extend beyond one’s expectations. Moreover, non-renewable fuel resources like crude oil are to be saved for future generations and that is why biofuel is promoted.
What Is Biofuel?
Before diving into further details about biofuel, let’s first understand what it is. Biofuel is any fuel that has been derived from biomass (plant, algae material, and even animal waste or excreta). It is considered to be a renewable source of energy as these biomass components can be replenished in a fairly lesser amount of time. Biofuel serves as an alternative to conventional sources of energy like petroleum, fossil fuels, and crude oil, which are depleting at an alarming rate.
Types Of Biofuel
There are two most common types of biofuel which have been explained below.
Ethanol (CH3CH2OH) is a renewable fuel source that can be obtained from multiple plant resources. It is an alcohol that is used as a blending agent along with gasoline (a by-product of the petroleum refining process). This blend is used to increase the octane intensity and curb carbon monoxide and several other smog-causing emissions. The most prominent ethanol blend has to be E10, which is 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline. The advantages of using biofuels like ethanol include an immense reduction in the pressure on petroleum resources.
Some vehicles, known as flexible fuel vehicles, are designed in a way that they can run on E85, which contains 51-83% of ethanol in the blend. It is an alternative fuel that has higher ethanol content than typical gasoline. About 97% of gasoline in the United States has some amount of ethanol in it.
Ethanol is basically made from plant starches and sugars, especially corn starch in the U.S. However, scientists have been working on newer technologies for the possibility of the use of cellulose and hemicellulose in ethanol production. The non-edible plant materials mentioned here contain huge amounts of plant matter and might be efficient enough for making ethanol.
Biodiesel is a type of liquid fuel achieved from renewable sources, which include new or used vegetable oils and even animal fats. It is used as a replacement for petroleum-generated diesel fuel. The benefits of biodiesel highlight that it is much cleaner and eco-friendly compared to petroleum-based diesel. Another notable advantage of biodiesel is that it is completely non-toxic and biodegradable in nature as it is manufactured by compounding alcohol with vegetable oil, animal fats, or used cooking grease.
In line with the petroleum-based alternative, biodiesel is also used as a fuel in compression-ignition (diesel) engines. It can be blended with petroleum-obtained diesel in any quantities, including B100, which is pure biodiesel. The most common blend is B20, which contains 20% biodiesel and 80% of petroleum diesel.
There are several benefits of biodiesel, some of which are mentioned in the article. However, some of the potential disadvantages of biodiesel would be the distinction in the quality of it according to the region of production, non-compatibility with use in low temperatures, and even clogging in the vehicle engines.
Benefits Of Biofuel You Might Not Know
Biofuel has several benefits and potentials that not many know. Therefore, this section is dedicated to offering you some of the lesser-known benefits of biofuel that would prove extremely beneficial for the entire mankind.
1. Energy Efficiency
One of the most important perks of biofuel that people generally ignore is energy efficiency. They often think that the non-renewable or conventional sources of energy are the most efficient ones. However, it is not so. While they are efficient enough, biofuel is not behind in any respect.
According to studies by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Idaho, for every fossil fuel unit that is required to grow and refine soybeans for biodiesel production, about four and a half units of energy are obtained. In the case of petroleum diesel, less than a unit of energy is produced in return. However, petroleum diesel is still much more efficient when the usage in cars or trucks is considered.
2. Curbs The Dependency On Foreign Oil
When talking about energy resources, fuel and oil come to our mind first. However, every country is not capable of generating crude oil production in order to meet its needs. This is why most of them prefer importing oil from nations that generate oil in abundance like UAE and Iran. But relying on foreign imports for energy sources is not something that would help a nation to grow in the long run. This is where the economic benefits of biofuels come in.
Adopting energy resources like biofuel that are much more economical would be a good option. This is because it will give the country’s citizens an option to venture out into the sector and help the nation expand economically. Also, indigenous development is something that every nation wants to promote. Even India currently imports a huge amount of crude oil from overseas, which is a detrimental factor considering the fact that it is a third-world country. In addition, the power head also considers the same mechanism. Such methods would prove to be negative if the alliance with oil-producing countries is hampered at any time. Therefore, switching to biofuel is the best option in this case.
3. Health Benefits
Pollution is one of the main reasons for the deteriorating health of people today. Most of the air pollution comes from vehicles that operate on petroleum products and lead to a high amount of carbon emissions. This, in turn, adversely affects people’s health. Biofuel, especially biodiesel, reduces such smog-creating emissions.
Lesser air pollution will aid in the reduction of many diseases such as lung malfunctions or even lung cancer. The usage of biomethane or biodiesel will lead to cleaner air as it will reduce the addition of harmful particulates into the air. Such advantages of biodiesel should be considered while the integration of this eco-friendly fuel in vehicles is considered.
4. Positive Economical Aspect
The benefits of biofuel also extend into the economic sector. Biofuel increases a nation’s dependence on its own resources rather than importing energy sources from other countries. Therefore, it affects the nation’s economy positively. In addition, there have been studies to prove that several countries’ economic conditions improved after the integration of biofuel. According to data from the Biofuels Journal, about 500,000 gallons of biofuel was produced in the U.S. in the year 1999. It then skyrocketed to 545 million gallons in 2009, which is just 10 years later. It added a huge sum of $4.28 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
5. Better Engine Performance
The list of benefits of biofuel would remain incomplete if this point would not be included. Biofuel, especially biodiesel usage aids in offering a better engine performance, superior to that of petroleum diesel. This fuel can be used in existing diesel-friendly engines without any major alterations. It would be really beneficial for those who fear significant modifications in the vehicle’s system. After the integration of biodiesel, those vehicles perform the same, if not better. In addition, reports show that biodiesel helps the engines last longer due to the absence of a high viscosity rate.
Environmental benefits of biofuel include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and sustainability (due to the minimised use of non-renewable resources).
Disadvantages Of Biofuel
Though biofuel has many advantages, it does have some demerits as well. Therefore a few of the possible disadvantages of biofuel are listed below.
- Regional compatibility is very important else the quality of biofuel produced would differ from other places in a country and even globally.
- The biofuel manufacturing process requires large amounts of water, thus putting pressure on the hydro energy sources.
- For the extraction of plant materials like wood, even deforestation might be triggered. It is one of the primary disadvantages of using biofuels.
- Genetic modification of biofuel crops like corn, cotton, and soybean.
- Technical issues as engines are developed according to conventional petroleum fuel sources.
An Eco-friendly Wrap Up!
Since the benefits of biofuel are almost limitless, it is highly recommended that countries shift to this renewable source of fuel energy for sustainability in the future. It would not only aid the environment but also the economy of a nation as a whole. Biofuel integration will open up opportunities for indigenous innovations as the dependency for fuel on other countries would be reduced. In addition to the already known environmental benefits of biofuel, they have been proven to be really energy efficient and also ensure better performance of engines (an important advantage of biodiesel). Therefore, on this ‘World Biofuel Day’ let’s celebrate the unharnessed potential of this environment-loving technology.
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