Is Biofuel a Renewable Energy Source?

Millennial and Generation Z students learned about the importance of car pollution in school. Many educational facility pickup lines encourage parents to turn off their vehicles while waiting for their kids. These efforts solidify the information students learn in the classroom.

Fortunately, transportation technology is constantly evolving. Flying cars still remain on the horizon, but eco-conscious vehicles are here! Scientists increased the sustainability of all vehicles by revolutionizing the composition of fuel.

What is Biofuel?

An eco-friendly alternative to traditional gasoline is biofuel. This power source derives its energy from biological carbon. Sugar, vegetable oil and starch commonly make up biofuels. Unlike conventional gas, biofuel emits fewer greenhouse gases into the environment.

The U.S. Department of Energy labels biofuel as a renewable energy source. Renewable energy derives from limitless natural resources, like the sun and wind. Because the Earth continuously grows plant matter, biofuel is renewable.

Traditional gasoline is limitless because there is a finite amount of it on the planet. It also emits high levels of greenhouse gases into the environment, which changes the atmosphere’s chemistry. As air pollutants invade the ecosystem, they trap the sun’s energy in the air. When more greenhouse gases fill the atmosphere, the global temperature rises due to energy entrapment.

Rising global temperatures cause adverse effects on the climate and global ecosystem. The use of biofuels reduces these environmental impacts on the atmosphere. Increasing society’s use of ethanol and biodiesel can shrink our global carbon footprint.

Ethanol

A common form of biofuel is ethanol. It is composed of various plant materials, creating an alcohol-based substance. Fuel companies combine ethanol with gasoline to reduce the amount of carbon monoxide and other pollutants emitted by vehicles.

Currently, starches and sugars make up ethanol. Scientists are working to increase the sustainability of this production, using the fibrous non-edible parts of plant matter as the main components. This would reduce food waste and the environmental impact of biofuel.   

New agricultural technology further reduces plant waste by increasing the efficiency of grain production. Smart systems monitor conditions of portable grain in storage systems to prevent yield loss. It is essential to monitor grain waiting for its conversion to ethanol to ensure optimal biofuel production. These systems increase the sustainability of ethanol production.

Biodiesel

Another popular form of biofuel is biodiesel. Recycled cooking oil, animal fats and soy oil make up this type of biofuel. It is America’s first domestically produced and publicly available form of biofuel.  

Biodiesel has the potential to fuel the transportation sector while eliminating food waste. Humanity throws away nearly one-third of the global food supply. The average individual also discards $2,200 annually through food waste. Biofuel offers a solution to this environmental and economic issue.

Environmental Impact

Biofuels effectively reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the traditionally fueled transportation sector. The renewable energy source also contributes to other forms of environmental degradation.

Biodiesel made from Brazilian sourced soy contributes to soil erosion and deforestation. The production of biofuels also increases water waste due to the use of water-intensive crops. They also increase pollution deriving from agricultural runoff.

High demands for biofuels lead farmers to produce crops using pesticides and synthetic fertilizers quickly. When stormwater washes out these agricultural regions, it carries pesticides and fertilizers to the sea. These materials deplete the ocean’s oxygen level, producing uninhabitable marine areas.

Is Biofuel Worth It?

If you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, renewably sourced biofuels can help. They emit fewer greenhouse gases than conventional fuel options. When combined with gasoline, they can effectively reduce fuel’s contribution to atmospheric destruction.

And if you are concerned with your water footprint, pesticide pollution and deforestation contribution, you may want to stay away from biofuels. Renewable energy sources only signify a reduction in air pollution rather than in their overall environmental impact. Make sure you evaluate the holistic effect of energy sources before engaging with them.  

Bio:

Jane is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co and an environmental writer covering green technology, sustainability and environmental news.

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