Search This Site

This site requires Quick time to play its audio player if need.
"A penny for your thoughts"

Monday, April 7, 2008

Are there any disadvantages of using biodiesel?

Vegetable oil, made of e.g. rapeseed or sunflower oil, is an alternative for diesel. Gasoline can be substituted by bio-ethanol, produced from sugar cane or wheat. Both diesel and gasoline can be mixed with vegetable oil or bio-ethanol. For example, all Shell gasoline contains two percent bio-ethanol, while Argos' five percent is even higher. The European Union has mandated that by 2010 5.75% of all transport fuels should be biofuels. Most cars can handle a share of 7 -10% biofuels without any further investment. Some countries, such as Belgium, are ahead of the EU legislation and have mandated a 2.5 percent biodiesel share.

The use of biofuels was particularly popular in Brazil in the mid 1980s. Because of declining oil prices and rising prices of sugar cane, the market for biofuels disappeared quickly in the late 1980s. In recent years the consumption of biofuels has increased quickly. Over 50% of cars sold in Brazil could take bio-ethanol as well as gasoline. In accordance to New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, shot up 2.95 dollars to close at a record 102.59 dollars per barrel, just two days after the prior record of 100.88 dollars. Alternative fuels will be more feasible.

Disadvantages of biofuels
Biofuels are heavily debated on three main issues with current biofuel production: limited CO2 reductions, land and water use and destruction of wild habitats.

Some estimate that for each tonne of CO2 released during combustion[is turned into a fuel, and combusted (releasing the same amount of CO2)], about 0.75 tonnes of CO2 were used in the production process [in which organic matter grows (absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere)]. This largely undermines the often-mentioned carbon advantages of biofuels making it seems that the only remaining advantage is the reduced energy dependence on foreign oil imports plus they do not contain sulfur and other pollutants.

The first generation biofuels, e.g. growing crops to turn into fuel or electricity, need a lot of land to produce a liter of fuel or a megawatt of electricity. In densely populated countries such as the Netherlands, there is by far not enough space to grow biofuels for the whole economy, even if the entire land surface would be used. This also means that biofuels have to compete with alternative land uses such as food production.

Currently, water constraints in agriculture are getting more and more severe. The introduction of large-scale biofuels would require an immense amount of water. Some experts say that water availability may severely limit further agricultural and economic activity in the future, including the use of biofuels.

As explained above, growing biomass increases the demand for agricultural land. A very alarming phenomenon is that many tropical countries, such as Indonesia, have shown sharply increased deforestation rates as palm oil plantings are being created. This eliminates much of the CO2 advantages, because of the CO2 that is released when forested areas are burnt or cut down. Even worse, pristine rain forests and their ecological functions are being destroyed. Recently, this phenomenon has attracted more policy attention. This is important, because many uninformed consumers would probably not have the feel-good experience when purchasing biodiesel if they really knew the entire production chain...

All these reason indicate why the current "first generation" biofuels does not seem feasible on a large scale. A promising development is the research on a "second generation" biofuels. This technology extracts energy from cellulose, which would make it possible to get much more energy from a single plant and hence reduces the need for additional farmland. This would decrease the environmental impact of biomass production. This technique is still fledgling.

In addition transportation & storage of biodiesel require special management. Some properties of biodiesel make it undesirable for use at high concentrations. For example, pure biodiesel doesn't flow well at low temperatures, which can cause problems for customers with outdoor storage tanks in colder climates. A related disadvantage is that biodiesel, because of its nature, can’t be transported in pipelines. It has to be transported by truck or rail, which increases the cost.
Biodiesel is less suitable for use in low temperatures, than petrodiesel.

Biofuels are more viscous than e.g. diesel, which requires a system that heats the fuel before the ignition starts. In Germany, the cost of this transformation is about € 800. However, the same mechanism for a gasoline car is much more expensive.


Read More

Non Biofuel alternatives:-
Bertrand Piccard Solar Plane seeks funding
Squba underwater car
Spaceflight Virgin Galactic
Hypersonic jet
Solar Taxi Around The World in 18 months
The car that runs on air
Hydrogen or Hybrid Electric Vehicle
Boeing flies first hydrogen-powered plane

Biofuel articles:-
Commercial Jet Uses Biofuel
Thai police using cooking oil for their patrol cars
Turning animal/Human waste into energy
Turning animal/Human waste into energy
Biofuels may speed up, not slow global warming

View blog reactions


Post a Comment