With all that is happening in the world, environmental scientists are looking for the best solution to our dependence on non-renewable fuels like oil. Biofuel is defined as non-fossil fuel. They derive energy from organic materials (known as biomass) and can come from everything from plants to animal waste. For many people, biofuels are one of the most promising solutions to help in the world energy crisis.
Biofuels are broken up into first-generation, which can be turned directly into fuel, and second-generation, which need to go through some sort of process before becoming usable in this way. When you're thinking of first-generation fuels you might think of wood pellets. An example of a secondary fuel is ethanol, which you will see at many gas stations servicing a taxis or city buses.
Biofuels create bioenergy, which is currently covering about ten percent of the world's demand for energy. While you won't yet see a lot of animal dung being used in homes you will likely see places that are using charcoal, or different kinds of plant materials. About eighty percent of the biofuels used now are in homes and eighteen percent in industry. The remaining are liquid biofuels and are used in transportation.
Like with all renewable resources, there are still limitations to how much energy biofuels could really provide to the whole world. While you might see it in everything from a taxi cab to a home using biofuels over the years, it is not yet reasonable to produce it all over the world. For example, ethanol is made from corn and it is not currently possible to produce enough of this substance to make much more ethanol than is currently made. The same can be said for other biofuels like biodiesel.
Because scientists are just starting to see the potential of using biofuels with new technology you might think that the majority of biofuels are used in more developed countries. While you will see countries from Canada to China committing to using more of these energy sources, you will also find many biomass resources in the developing world. India is making use of the plant jatropha and there are many rural populations that are using wood, crop residue, and even animal dung to heat their homes and cook their food.
A Jatropha plant
Research into biofuels is still relatively new and only time will tell if it will get to the status where it has an effect on oil use and natural gas. Experts are now saying that the key to using alternative energy sources might be more about combining the options rather than choosing just one. Time will tell what role biofuels will play.