5 Uses of Biofuels Explained
Uses of biofuels are; heating, transportation, electricity generation, lubrication, and oil spill-cleanup.
This article explains the uses of biofuels, as follows;
1). Heating (as one of the Uses of Biofuels)
Biofuel can be used for heating in industrial, commercial and domestic settings.
The particular choice of biofuel to be used for any heating operation depends on the nature and context of the operation itself.
For example, solid biofuels like fuelwood and sawdust can be used for domestic heating purposes, provided they are well managed to prevent pollution hazard.
For industrial heating, fuelwood can also be used, alongside liquid and gaseous biofuels like biogas, bioethanol and biomethanol.
Because of the low energy-density of biofuel compared to other energy resources, it is often used as an additive in gasoline, especially where large amounts of thermal energy are required.
With regard to domestic heating, biofuels can be used for space heating, water heating and cooking. They can also serve as a source of bioenergy for thermal food processing in commercial agricultural contexts.
The industrial use of biofuel for heating may occur in the form of cogeneration (CHP), where the fuel is used to generate power and heat simultaneously .
Biofuel usage for heating is challenged by the environmental impact of most biofuels, including fuelwood. Combustion of these materials can cause air pollution and contribute to climate change by releasing greenhouse gases and particulate matter into the atmosphere.
Highly refined biofuels like biodiesel may however be burnt with less emissions.
The use of bioenergy for transportation is one of the most important concepts in sustainable development and green economy, in the twenty-first century.
Biofuels used for transport include those with suitable physical and chemical properties, including sufficient energy density to yield significant energy when burnt either alone, or as an additive, in an automobile combustion engine.
Biodiesel is a prominent example of biofuels used in transport, and it has been portrayed as a potential replacement for petroleum in the automobile energy transition agenda .
Being produced by the transesterification of vegetable oils, this biofuel burns with more efficiency and less emissions than gasoline.
The use of such biofuels in automobiles can be helpful for decarbonization of the global transport sector, or at least as a means of reducing the sector's long-term carbon footprint.
Challenges facing fossil fuels' total replacement by biofuels in automobiles include low energy density, need for land resources to grow biomass feedstock, and current costs of biorefining processes.
Efforts to overcome these hurdles have resulted in the development of modified internal combustion engines and fuel cells for hybrid vehicles. The use of biofuel as a sustainable aviation fuel in aircrafts has also been studied and achieved in various capacities.
3). Electricity Generation (as one of the Uses of Biofuels)
In addition to heating, biofuels can be used to generate electricity, using the principles of thermo-mechanical conversion and electromagnetism.
Biofuels that can be used for power production in a bio power plant, include biodiesel, bioethanol, and fuelwood. Their selection depends on the design and scale of the power plant being used, as well as the nature of regional demand for electricity.
The use of biofuel for electricity generation usually requires the employment of technologies that are normally used with fossil fuels like coal and gasoline. Such technologies include steam turbines and electric generators, which help capture and convert thermal energy from the combustion of biofuel, into mechanical energy and electricity, successively.
Bio-power is among the promising renewable forms of electricity, alongside others like wave power, wind and solar .
Biodiesel is an example of a biofuel that can be used as a lubricant, in technological systems that have multiple, movable parts.
Compared to commercial, petroleum-based lubricating oils and gasoline, biofuel is often a better lubricant for engines, because it is derived from vegetable oils, having high oxygen content and lubricity that enable it to limit friction and prolong the operational life of engines  .
Biodiesel can be added to gasoline to increase its lubricity as it is used in ICEs .
However, for biodiesel with high methanol content, its use as a lubricant can be associated with risk of corrosion.
5). Oil Spill Cleanup (as one of the Uses of Biofuels)
The best method to clean up an oil spill depends on the nature and severity of the spill-hazard itself.
Materials that are used to clean up oil spills in most cases include organic sorbent compounds like polyurethane and propylene .
Biodiesel is useful for cleaning up oil spills even in severe cases of marine pollution, because it is non-toxic, non-volatile, inexpensive and highly biodegradable . These qualities enable it to facilitate the breakdown of aromatic and aliphatic organic components of crude oil .
Uses of biofuels;
3. Electricity Generation
5. Oil Spill Cleanup
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