Biofuel has been widely used in place of fossil fuels because it is more economical and environmental friendly compared to fossil fuels. Biofuels were initially made from edible crops especially corn, but these are restricted in their aptitude to accomplish goals for economic growth and reduction of climatic change. However, recent research shows that the use biofuels from non-food substances like animal waste and microalgae offer better opportunities to obtaining these goals in this paper an attempt to review the various uses of biofuels and their impact to attaining the economic and environmental goals on sustainable and renewable sources of energy.
A recent analysis of the amount of energy required to produce biofuels has raised controversies about whether the biofuels achieve their primary target on economic effectiveness. Whether or not a form of biofuel provides enough power that supplements its consumption during production depends mainly on the uses of the biofuel and its sources. To look into this one needs to look at the two primary forms of biofuels produced in modern technology.
Liquid biofuels include bioethanol and biodiesel. Bioethanol is produced commercially from lignocellulosic materials, which yield more than 25% of the energy used in its production (Mata, Martins and Caetano, 2010). Bioethanol is used primarily as petrol substitute for vehicle engines. Recently, there is the use of biodiesel from oil seeds and microalgae in standard diesel engines where it is can be used alone or blended with diesel from fossil fuels. Gaseous biofuels include biogas and syngas. The production of syngas is less cost-effective hence is rarely practiced. Commercial production of biogas from organic waste materials by anaerobic synthesis is common.
Security of supply
Though second-generation production of biofuels is mainly from non-food substances, there are concerns on the effect of production of biofuels on food supply. Studies were done recently indicate that there can supply more than 28% of biofuels to supplement fossil fuels without adversely affecting food supply (Weiping and Buhain, 2015). The increase in the availability of biofuels has enhanced the reliability of biofuels adding to the fact that they are renewable and less toxic to the environment. Interests about petroleum supplies, prices and negative environmental impacts of fossil fuels have raised the search for renewable sources of energy. Though biofuels have their limitations, considering that they create a better living environment are readily available makes them a better alternative.
The first generation production of biofuels raised controversies on whether the biofuels were a better alternative or not as it led to competition on land for agricultural use and reduction of the food supply. Later in the second generation, that involves the use of biomass and microalgae for the production have proved more environmentally friendly and sustainable (Carriquiry and Timilsina, 2011). It plays an essential role in the argument that biofuels have reduced pollution and led to the production of more energy.
Concerns on the growing need for less harmful fuels have raised a higher demand for biofuels, which are renewable. There is a need to check and ensure that the sources of these biofuels are sustainable without leading to higher costs or less energy production (Erisman and Bleeker, 2010). There is also a need to ensure that the food supply is not affected during the process hence the introduction of biofuels production using non-food substances.
The fact that biofuels provide environmental cost make them more beneficial than fossil fuels. The ecological impacts of biofuels subsidize their prices below that of the fossil fuels. This positive impact on the environment makes biofuels more sustainable than fossil fuels. The degree at which biofuels reduce pollution and improve life cycle through the nitrogen fixation makes it a more sustainable source of energy.
By the use of organic waste to produce energy, one does not waste heat in the disposal mechanism, but instead, they generate more power. Recycling of organic waste means less pollution — bioethanol and biodiesel, which yield 25% more power than that, used in its production (Tyner, 2008).
Reduction of CO2 emissions
The use of biofuels has reduced emission of harmful greenhouse gases, which causes global warming. Biofuels preferably emit nitrous oxide (N2O) which has less impact since it is a reverse process from the nitrogen taken in during the production of the biofuels. Research shows that biodiesel releases 14% less CO2 than diesel (Hill and Tiffany, 2006.). From this fact biofuels are environmentally friendly than fossil fuels.
The use of other sources of energy has with time extrapolated in the power industry. That has diminished the use of biodiesel energy. Due to that, many undesirable effects from the power production industry have been experienced in the in the environment, leading to its deterioration. It is, therefore, crucial to retain and even adopt more of the biodiesel system where it can be primarily applied.
- Carriquiry, M.A., Du, X. and Timilsina, G.R., 2011. Second generation biofuels: Economics and policies. Energy Policy, 39(7), pp.4222-4234.
- Erisman, J.W., van Grinsven, H., Leip, A., Mosier, A. and Bleeker, A., 2010. Nitrogen and biofuels an overview of the current state of knowledge. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 86(2), pp.211-223.
- Guo, M., Song, W. and Buhain, J., 2015. Bioenergy and biofuels: History, status, and perspective. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 42, pp.712-725.
- Hill, J., Nelson, E., Tilman, D., Polasky, S. and Tiffany, D., 2006. Environmental, economic, and energetic costs and benefits of biodiesel and ethanol biofuels. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103(30), pp.11206-11210.
- Mata, T.M., Martins, A.A. and Caetano, N.S., 2010. Microalgae for biodiesel production and other applications: a review. Renewable and sustainable energy reviews, 14(1), pp.217-232.
- Tyner, W.E., 2008. The US ethanol and biofuels boom: Its origins, current status, and prospects. AIBS Bulletin, 58(7), pp.646-653.