Last Updated on March 15, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
Bio-fuels can be described as any biomass-obtained fuel. Biomass is product produced from animals and plants. Experts and ecologists feel that in order to protect the world from international warming, we need to make improvements in our lifestyle. One such change could be changing to bio-fuels for the transportation industry.
Some of these bio-fuels are made up of grease, biodiesel, bio-gas, and bio-alcohol. To make biodiesel that can be used in vehicles, grease is used. Biodiesel is made by using oils and fats through a process known as transesterification.
This is the most widely used bio-fuel in the world nowadays. The fermentation of sugars and starch creates bio-alcohols like ethanol fuel and butanol. Because it is plant based, biodiesel is a source of a renewable resource. Also, it is a green fuel as it does not release toxic gases into the atmosphere.
As a customer, before deciding whether you are happy with this resource, you will need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of using biofuels. Here are a few:
Advantages of Bio-fuel
1. Green Energy
Biofuel can be considered to be a very renewable source of oil as the potential harmful effect on our atmosphere is considerably lower relative to fossil fuels. Since biofuels can be produced by the use of by-products from crops or other organic waste materials, the use of biofuel can lead to the better use of our natural resources.
If worldwide demand for conventional fuels rises, supply can decline and costs can escalate dramatically for this product. Biofuel, especially when sourced and processed locally, may be a more viable alternative. And if there is a rise in supply and demand for this new source of oil, it might become much cheaper. With current engine technologies, biofuel can be used which can even extend the working life of engines. This suggests less upgrades and servicing, resulting in less costs for consumers.
3. Can be Produced Locally
Not all nations have a huge reserve of crude oil, and some of them have to import their stocks. The source materials for biofuel may be generated locally, thereby reducing the dependence of a country on international sources of oil. This has the effect of safeguarding the quality of local fuel supplies and enhancing energy protection.
The supply chain of biofuels can be seen as very safe and eco-friendly relative to other energy sources. As there is no sustained shipment of raw products, such as oil, which may potentially contaminate our environment in the event of an accident, biofuel production can be considered to be safer compared to conventional fuels.
5. Diversification in Raw Materials
Since biofuels can be produced from a wide variety of different raw materials, including manure, crop remains or algae, biofuels can be considered to be a very versatile source of energy. For example, if there are years when crop yields are very low, more manure or algae could instead be used for biofuel production.
Therefore, this diversification of raw materials with respect to the development of biofuels makes biofuels very appealing, as this technique is not so dependent on a single raw material.
6. Short Transportation Distance
Unlike conventional fuels, where vast volumes of oil or other materials have to be shipped over very long distances, the manufacture of biofuels would not require the shipping of fossil resources. The biomass needed for biofuel production can be planted or collected from nearby biofuel production facilities in the area. Thus, the production of biofuels would not require long transport distances compared to fossil fuels, which in turn reduces air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and the implied problem of global warming.
7. Job Creation
Especially in regions with high levels of unemployment, the presence of the biofuel industry in those regions could be very attractive, as it would provide many jobs and increase the average income and overall living conditions of many residents. Governments in those regions should also propose supplying biofuel firms with financial incentives to open branches in those places. For example, for those businesses, this might result in tax benefits, which would increase the incentive for companies to operate in those regions.
Disadvantages of Bio-fuels
1. Inefficient Production
While biofuels have many benefits, there are still some drawbacks associated with them. One drawback is that, depending on the raw material and also the setup of the biofuel production plant, the production of biofuels can be very inefficient. In terms of material input and energy output, conventional fuels may be much more efficient depending on the generation of biofuel production.
2. Large Amount of Raw Materials is Required
Huge quantities of raw materials have to be processed for the production of biofuels. In exchange, this can result in shortages of these raw materials in other branches of the industry. In addition, the production of large quantities of goods can also place a great deal of stress on machines, which can in turn leads to increased maintenance costs.
3. High Investment
Biofuel production entails high initial investment costs, as plenty of machines are needed and many official specifications need to be met before companies are permitted to join the biofuel market. These high initial costs may also prevent many small farmers from participating in this business, as they might simply not be able to invest significant sums of money in the first place.
4. Increase in Food Prices
The production of biofuels can also increase the prices of food on the global market. For example, when crops are used for the production of biofuels instead of food, there is a drop in supply that may result in higher food prices.
Moreover, if more space is used for the farming of biofuels, less space growing be used for the production of food. Therefore, if the production of biofuels is in competition with the production of food products, this will lead to higher world market prices for food items of different kinds.
5. High Water Demand
Water is a very scarce resource. Due to global warming, it will become even scarcer, more valuable and costlier in the future. However, the processing of biofuels often requires the use of a significant amount of water, which the local people may extremely need to survive. Thus, it could be very problematic in the future if biofuels are the right way to go when it comes to an ethical viewpoint.
Multiple steps are involved in the biofuel production chain. This production process can also mean significant levels of pollution of several kinds, depending on the generation of biofuels. Although they can be considered greener relative to fossil fuels, they are not completely green.
As stated earlier, bio-fuel production will lead to rising global food prices. In turn, for millions of people worldwide who rely on stable food prices in order to survive, this could lead to extreme global hunger and malnutrition. Thus, in the worst case scenario, biofuel production will lift food prices to the point that millions can no longer afford basic food, which can also lead to the deaths of many people in poor regions of our world.
Deforestation may be a natural consequence since large areas of land are required to harvest adequate crops and other materials for the production of biofuels. This can be seen I n the Amazon Rainforest, where vast areas of forest are cut or burned down in order to get more room for farming.
Deforestation, however, leads to global warming because trees are carbon dioxide storage space and large amounts of carbon dioxide are released into our environment through deforestation.