Renewable Energy and Environmentally Responsible FuelsDownload Audio Version
There are different sources of renewable energy such as biodiesel, biofuel, and bioenergy. The goal of using green sources is to minimize impact on the environment.
Biodiesel, Power Efficiency, and Air Quality
This is an animal fat or plant-based fuel that is used as an alternative to gas. The main advantage is that it is a clean-burning, eco-friendly, and locally produced fuel. Another benefit is the fact that it supplies 3 times more energy than what it takes to make it. This figure includes all associated costs such as transportation by trucks and train, equipment and technologies used, as well as energy costs, steam, and pesticides. Better air quality is an added benefit. Using biodiesel and other alternative fuels reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, including particulate matter, sulfates, carbon monoxide, and many others. According to a report by the US Department of Energy, the use of biodiesel reduces emissions by close to 80 percent.
Biodiesel can be produced from bacteria, algae, and plant crops and can be recycled. Large amounts of vegetable oils are recycled to produce biodiesel. Production encourages local farming and reduces energy dependence. On the downside, it is more expensive than other fuels because the production infrastructure is not well-developed yet. Another problem is that the cost of feedstocks and food crops used to make biodiesel increases.
On the positive side, biofuel refineries are eco-friendly because they release fewer gases and other pollutants. Ethanol plants that are coal-fired emit large volumes of carbon dioxide and other gases. Plants fueled by biogas and plant matter generate less greenhouse gas emissions. Cancer-causing compounds released by oil refineries include formaldehyde, butadiene, and other chemicals. They cause a number of health problems such as asthma and cardiovascular problems.
Types and Benefits of Using Biofuels
There are different types of biofuels such as ethanol, biobutanol, vegetable oil, biogas, and others. Ethanol, for example, is commonly used because it is a clean type of fuel that produces less carbon dioxide and monoxide emissions than gasoline and other fuels. It contains fewer volatile compounds than other power sources which makes it an eco-friendly alternative. The production of ethanol is good for local communities because it creates more jobs. Moreover, it is easy to use and can be purchased from many retailers and manufacturers. Biobutanol is produced through the process of fermentation. It has a higher energy density than other forms of fuel which makes it an energy-efficient alternative. Experts call it an advanced biofuel with content which is similar to that of gasoline. It can be produced from different agricultural crops such as sorghum, wheat, corn, and sugar cane. Dedicated energy grasses will be used for production in the near future. Biobutanol is a higher value product that can be blended with other types of fuel such as gasoline. It offers different agricultural and environmental benefits, and one is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The use of biobutanol is good for local farmers because it is another marketing opportunity for them.
Biogas: Pros and Cons
Biogas is another type of fuel to consider. It is produced from organic matter and known under different names (digester and landfill gas, swamp gas, and biomethane). The food industry and farms generate waste products that can be used to produce biogas. It has different uses, including heat and power production and is a type of renewable natural gas. Biogas is produced through the decomposition of municipal, industrial, and agricultural waste, as well as animal and plant byproducts and sewage. The natural gas grid is used for supply purposes. Vegetable oil is yet another alternative to traditional fuels. The main advantages are that it is widely available and reduces environmental and air pollution. You can pick it from a fast food joint for free. At the same time, conversion kits are expensive. A kit costs between $800 and $1,500. High maintenance costs are also an issue. In addition to finding a source of vegetable oil, users should think of a storage space.
Other Benefits of Using Bioenergy
Sustainability is one of the main benefits of using alternative forms of bioenergy. While fossil fuels are non-renewable, bioenergy is obtained from plants that can be replanted. Switchgrass and other high-energy crops generate more power than other sources. Biofuels release fewer carcinogenic compounds and emissions and are more cost-efficient than diesel. Better engine performance is an added benefit.
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