5 Advantages of Biofuels Explained
Advantages of biofuels are; renewable sources, combustion efficiency, carbon neutrality, multiple applications, energy resilience and security improvement.
This article explains the advantages of biofuels, as follows;
1). Renewable Sources (as one of the Advantages of Biofuels)
Biofuel is a renewable energy resource, because it is derived solely from biomass, which is created and regenerated continuously in nature .
The renewable nature of biofuel is one of its biggest advantages, and accounts for its relevance toward sustainable development in the energy sector.
While biofuels do not have sufficient energy density to single-handedly drive the energy transition from non-renewable fossil fuels to renewable alternatives, they can support the energy transition significantly, alongside other renewable energy resources like solar, geothermal, hydro and wind.
By being renewable, biofuels cannot be exhausted, as long as the feedstock for producing these fuels are continuously regenerated.
The challenges facing biofuel as a prospective renewable fuel, mainly revolve around the use of land resources for cultivating feedstock, and how these resources could be rather used to tackle more expedient socioeconomic problems like food insecurity .
2). Combustion Efficiency
Combustion efficiency of fuels is a type of energy efficiency metric that assesses the effectiveness with which chemical potential-stored energy in the fuel is converted to usable thermal energy, through combustion.
Combustion of biofuels is simply a thermochemical reaction between the constituents of the biofuel, and oxygen, which usually results in decomposition or breakdown of the fuel into its component elements.
The combustion efficiency of biofuel is higher than that of petroleum, because of the presence of significant proportion of oxygen (10-45%) in the chemical makeup of biofuel . This enables biofuel to burn with more efficiency and lower emissions.
Because of its combustion efficiency, biofuel is often used as an additive in gasoline, thereby providing a cheap means of boosting fuel volume and engine performance simultaneously.
Biofuel is also added to gasoline for its lubricity, which reduces friction between engine parts and prolongs the operational life of such engines .
The production efficiency of biofuel is also significant, so that various examples of biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel are capable of yielding between 25 and 93% more energy than is used in their production .
While it releases lower emissions than fossil fuels, biofuel is not perfectly clean in terms of instantaneous emissions, but can release carbonaceous airborne byproducts when burnt .
3). Carbon Neutrality (as one of the Advantages of Biofuels)
Efforts to reduce the rate and severity of climate change caused by fuel combustion, have led to the discovery that some fuels can be carbon neutral.
Biofuel is a carbon neutral fuel, because their breakdown is in unison with the natural carbon cycle on the Earth's surface.
For fossil fuels, though they originate from organic biomass, they are far removed from the Earth's surface in both time and space. This results in a scenario where carbon dioxide released during the combustion of fossil fuels is always a net positive introduction into the present-day ecosystem.
Biofuels on the other hand, come from biomass whose creation is relatively recent. Because this biomass is a carbon sink, its seclusion from the environment has a net-negative effect on the total volume of land-based and atmospheric carbon.
Combustion of biofuel does not cause any actual increase in present-day carbon levels, but only releases carbon that was recently stored in biomass. This is why biofuel is seen as a carbon neutral energy resource.
The production and consumption of biofuel is merely a manmade extension of the natural dynamics of carbon recycling between carbon sources and sinks.
It is important to note however, that the carbon neutrality of biofuel depends on consistent regeneration of used biomass through reforestation, afforestation, and other similar practices.
If forests are depleted without regeneration, as biofuels are being utilized, then the biofuels will become carbon-intensive, like fossil fuels.
In general, biofuel reduces carbon output from energy usage, because its percentage proportion of carbon is lower than that of fossil fuels. With regards to reducing energy carbon footprint, biofuels can be utilized as a supportive energy resource for fossil fuels, to reduce their consumption and environmental impact .
4). Multiple Applications
Biofuels have the advantage of being versatile in the area of their applications.
The various applications of biofuels include transportation, electricity generation, domestic and industrial heating, environmental remediation, and machinery lubrication.
Biofuels can be used in various fields, processed and systems; including food processing, water management, hybrid cars, fuel cells, power plants, biotechnology applications, and cogeneration.
Biotechnology applications that utilize biofuels include biodegradation studies, organic chemical development, bioremediation and microalgae culturing.
Uses of biofuels include remediation of biodegradable pollutants, such as hydrocarbons released during oil spills .
Asides the area of applications, biofuels are versatile in other ways.
Studies in biotechnology have revealed multiple sources of biofuels, including all forms of lignocellulosic and cellulosic matter from crops, organic waste, and microbial biomass. Based on these sources, various types of biofuels can be distinguished, including first, second, third, and in some cases; fourth generation biofuels.
Blending of biofuels with other energy resources can be achieved, and this improves their flexibility and performance for various purposes .
The usability of biofuels is further helped by their occurrence in multiple physical forms, including solid, liquid and gas .
5). Energy Resilience and Security Improvement (as one of the Advantages of Biofuels)
In renewable energy development, energy security is a measure of the potential availability and affordability of energy resources, over the short and long terms respectively.
The four key aspects of energy security are; availability, accessibility, acceptability and affordability. These represent the key bases on which the degree of assurance and sustainability of energy supply can be measured.
Biofuel can improve energy security by facilitating local production and supply of fuel in an accessible and affordable way, with less risk of environmental pollution, fluctuating costs, and sudden energy scarcity .
The economic resilience of any region can be boosted if biofuels are developed and utilized locally, in an optimal manner. With local production, savings can be achieved on foreign exchange, and economic sectors and activities like sustainable agriculture can benefit immensely from a more reliable power supply.
Biofuel development can also create local employment opportunities, which are of economic benefit.
Advantages of Biofuels are;
1. Renewable Sources
2. Combustion Efficiency
3. Carbon Neutrality
4. Multiple Applications
5. Energy Resilience and Security Improvement
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