Monday, January 28, 2013

Next Generation Bio-Fuels, by Sharon Powell


Next Generation Bio Fuels

By Sharon Powell


What are Bio Fuels? Are they things made from our environment?  Or perhaps a plant or animal! If you agree that both plants and fossils can produce energy you are absolutely correct! Although “Fossil Fuels” and “Bio Fuels” are made to produce energy, they are very different in comparison.

Bio Fuels are synthetic resources of energy.  By referring to the term “synthetic,” we simply mean that products are manufactured from other sources verses occurring naturally.  Bio Fuels are man-made resources of energy made from food, crops, grasses, wood, algae, garbage, sewage and manure.


Bio Fuels allow people to heat their homes, drive their car, or simply allow us to remain cool on hot summer days.  Some people might think energy is free, but the fact is in order to produce energy, other sources of energy are required in order to manufacture more.  As the world becomes more technologically advanced the price of energy continues to rise along with the research needed to help find cost effective ways for creating alternative fuels.


The greatest portion of energy consumed today is referred to as “Fossil Fuels,” and comes from plants and animals that died millions of years ago.  Resources were then buried beneath layers of rock and soil.  As time passed, atmospheric conditions and pressure reacted on the remains, creating an abundance of biological cells and gases, which are commonly referred to as “Bio Fuels” and “Fossil Fuels.”  There are three different types of “Fossil Fuels” commonly known as “Petroleum,” “Coal,” and “Natural Gas.”  Fossil fuels must be removed from the earth and can become costly to manufacture over time.  Removing fossil fuels from the ground can also have serious side effects on

the environment.  For instance, for every ton of coal mined today, there are also 25 tons of rock and earth removed during the process.  Other concerns are the chemicals that wash away into the soil, streams, and lakes. Mining these resources can have long-term effects on wild life and those depending upon the resources used for jobs and health issues.


Petroleum and natural Gas come from the ground and must be pumped from wells or land and sea. Mining “petroleum” is found to be the most dangerous to the environment due to the processes used for extracting it from the ground.  There have been a number of oil spills over the last few decades, costing millions of dollars for clean-up efforts and damages to wildlife species and the environment.

Fossil Fuels tend to create more pollution in comparison to bio fuels since “fossil fuels are burned” creating smog and pollutants in the air.  When fossil fuels are burned, they create greenhouse gases, which trap heat into the atmosphere causing the earth’s temperature to rise.  Technology and the hazards involved with fossil fuels have generated much controversy. Over the last few years, scientists have been focusing on alternative fuels, such as “Bio Fuels” as a means for producing ethanol.  “Bio fuels have proven beneficial in many ways, including reducing damages to the environment.  Bio fuels and Ethanol are produced from plants that capture energy from the sun and store it in their tissue as chemicals called “Hydrocarbons.”  “Hydrocarbons” take only a few months to grow inside the plant, where as “fossil fuels” took millions of years.  “Bio Fuels” can be “transformed into liquid fuel” and consumed in much the same way as fossil fuels. Ethanol can be mixed with fossil fuels to conserve and reduce the use of fossil fuels.


Ethanol is made from plants that are high in sugar content.  The sugar ferments and creates a type of alcohol which is referred to as “Ethanol.”  The Ethanol is then mixed with 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol, or a blend commonly referred to as E-85.  Researchers have found that “Bio Fuels help to reduce pollution and about half the amount of “carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur compounds that cause acid rain. Both forms of energy cause pollution, but Bio Fuels reduce the amount of pollution by nearly 75% of carbon dioxide when compared to diesel fuels.  Other benefits

of “Bio Fuels” are the non-toxic features noted and will easily break-down in the environment if spilled onto the ground. “Bio Fuels” are an excellent source for renewable forms of energy in today’s fast paced world.  Bio fuels are beneficial, but researchers have also noted the downsides with using “Bio Fuels” which play a significant part into the lives of future generations.”


Since “Bio Fuels” are grown strictly from plants, scientists are concerned with the amount of acreage and water required to produce the crops for production. Other concerns stress the hazards known to wildlife, who, are forced from their habitat in search of a new home.  Scientists and large corporations are working together to resolve some very important downsides to “Bio Fuel” production.  Large oil companies and environmental scientists are now focusing much of their research on the production of “Algae” as a major resource for producing “Bio Fuels.”  According to Exxon-Mobil, the benefits of “Algae” production are both sensible and cost effective.  Algae production conserves land use and saves wildlife species. The benefits also have long-term effects as scientists conclude “Bio Fuels” are “Photosynthetic Algae,” which have the potential to change the way future generations use energy resources.  Algae can also be grown using both land and water which are unsuitable for plant and food production. Lastly, “Algae” has the potential to yield greater volumes per single acreage, producing 2000 gallons of fuel per acre.  The use of “Algae” has been found to be cost effective, highly productive and can be grown quickly.


The future of “Bio-Oils from “Photosynthetic Algae” could manufacture a full range of fuels including gasoline, diesel fuels, and jet fuels that also meet the same specifications used in today’s products.  The future of Synthetic Genomics is a scientific breakthrough, in addition to being a second-generation or renewable form of bio fuel.  These forms of energy can have positive effects on the way future generations produce and consume energy.  Go, go green power……S. Powell, 2010






4.) Biofuels, Karen D. Povey, Thomson/Gale, Kidhaven Press, Farmington Hills, MI, 2007.

5.) Bio Fuels, Andrew Solway, M.A., Gareth Stevens Publishing, Pleasantville, NY, 2008.



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