The biofuel or biofuels are substances product mixture of organic matter (biomass), harvestable energy value provided with motors or internal combustion systems .
They are also known as “ agrofuels ”, since they mostly come from the use of agricultural products, such as corn or cassava, and to avoid the positive feature of the “bio-” prefix , since they are also a source of pollution, although not as high as other energy sources . While the importance of these substances is their economic and safe origin, they are often mixed with other types of fuel to maximize their performance. Even so, many countries place in the development of biofuels the hope of palliating or replacing the consumption of traditional fuels , such as fossil hydrocarbons .
Most biofuels are obtained through fermentation processes , anaerobic digestion or transesterification of starches, sugars and vegetable oils, to obtain alcohols, ethers, gases and various forms of fuel substances. This means that in its elaboration an injection of energy is needed that in certain cases could exceed the energetic capacity of the fuel obtained, so that at the moment agrofuels are more a form of recycling than an energy solution .
It can serve you: 10 Examples of Fuels
Examples of biofuels
- Biodiesel . The most demanded biofuel in Europe, is obtained from vegetable oils, animal fats or microalgae oils, and once mixed with mineral diesel, can be used in any diesel combustion engine. Its emissions are less harmful than those of normal diesel, as it is a highly hydrogenated and oxygenated fuel, produced from vegetables such as soy, mustard, flax, sunflower, hemp, palm and others.
- Bioethanol . Produced, like most bioalcohols, by the fermentation of sugars or starches in organic matter from the action of microorganisms and enzymes, it is a high purity alcohol that can be used as an additive or substitute for gasoline in certain engines It is obtained particularly from the fermentation of sugar cane, beets or even wine must, or various cereals. It is the biofuel with the highest production in the world (40,000 million liters in 2004).
- Green diesel. This type of biodiesel is produced by biological hydrocracking , that is, the breakdown of large molecules of vegetable oils into small hydrocarbon chains, useful for diesel engines. This occurs in the presence of very specific catalysts and high pressures and temperatures. It is said that there are similar versions of biogasoline in development.
- Biofuel gasoline. There are numerous alternative gasoline projects underway, one of which managed in 2013, from certain strains of the Escherichia coli bacteria , to transform glucose molecules into a certain biogasoline that would not require mixing. Although these experiments still require a lot of work to become profitable in quantity, it is estimated that in the coming decades there will be surprising results in the area.
- Biogas Obtained by anaerobic decomposition (without oxygen) of organic matter, this gas rich in hydrocarbons is produced at the same time as a solid “digestate” that can be used as fertilizer. Biogas is combustible, quite safe and of low yield, but can be produced with relative ease from biodegradable waste, manure or other agricultural waste.
- Syngas It is a mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons with carbon monoxide and hydrogen, obtained through the partial combustion of organic matter and previous drying and polarization processes. The result is a fairly efficient combustible gas that can very well be used to obtain other more complex biofuels or burned in an internal combustion engine.
- Biomethane Alternative fuel for internal combustion engines currently in use in China and in the racing car industry. Made from biomass , it is cheaper than ethanol, but more polluting and with lower energy density.
- Mycodiesel The discovery of the fungus Glocladium roseum of the northern Patagonian forests, capable of converting cellulose into medium-length hydrocarbons very similar to those of diesel, allowed experimentation with this type of substances as biofuel, using genetic technology and other similar microorganisms based on trying to create a profitable and easily obtainable mycodiesel.
- Cellulose Ethanol Using microbial cultures or wastes from inedible products (which has the great advantage of not replacing foodstuffs towards the energy chain, abandoning the food chain), copying a little the ruminant food process , capable of breaking down these sugars, but in a laboratory. This requires high temperatures and, for now, it has not been possible to produce in profitable quantities, so it is a research project.
- Seaweed Biobutanol Although it has a very low current yield, biobutanol is perfectly producible from sunlight and the fermentation of certain nutrients from seaweed. This method of converting glucose to butanol is inefficient, so genetic methods are sought to optimize the process and accelerate the production of fuel.
- Biohydrogen . It is hydrogen produced by algae, bacteria and archaea, whose photosynthetic process is capable of producing the element instead of oxygen, in the presence of the hydrogenase enzyme . This resource is usable as a chemical supply for laboratories, but it also contains great potential as a biofuel. We are currently studying how to control this process and be able to manufacture the tons of hydrogen needed to use it in a combustion engine.
- Hydrobiodiesel . Produced by catalytic hydrogenation of vegetable and animal oils and fats, it is fully compatible with conventional diesel, so it can be used as a fuel for ordinary diesel cycle engines. In this process, long chains of alkanes that are very energy-efficient are obtained.
- Hydrobiokerosene . Prepared in turn from hydrobiodiesel, it is obtained by subjecting it to subsequent treatments (isomerization and fractionation) to isolate the hydrocarbon stream in its ideal crystallization and distillation ranges .
- DMF (dimethylfuran) . With an energy density 40% higher than ethanol, comparable only with gasoline, this compound can be produced through catalytic mechanisms from glucose or fructose. Dimethylfuran (C 6 H 8 O) is chemically stable and, dissolved in water, does not pollute the atmosphere. Many current hopes are placed in the future of this compound.