Biofuels and bio-based chemicals production technologies

Biofuels have the potential to lead to a near-term paradigm shift from the use of crude oil and petroleum products to a crop-grown biofuels as a source of energy.

Biofuels refer to a wide range of fuels derived from organic materials such as grass and wood (cellulosic biomass), and crops such as sugar cane, corn, starch crops (potato and fruit waste), soybeans, vegetable oils, bio-gases e.t.c. These organic based alternative energy material sources are referred to as biomass.

The term biomass can be defined as a source of alternative energy that can be used for the production of biofuels such as ethanol fuel, and biodiesel using the conventional technology.

There is a significant public and scientific interest in advancing the biofuel production technology, driven by the factors such as rapidly rising prices of crude oil, the need for increased Energy Security (lessen the dependence on the use of foreign oil), and increased concerns over greenhouse gas emissions from the use of fossil fuels.

Ethanol fuel is the most widely used biofuel in the world. It is widely integrated as a transportation fuel in Brazil. Ethanol fuel, like many other biofuels, is made from biodegradable materials and products, which makes it an environmentally safe alternative to fossil fuels.

If the United States invests its resources into the development of the cost effective ethanol fuel production technologies, then it could decrease its dependence on the use of foreign oil, strengthen its national energy security, decrease a chance of conflict due to crude oil shortages, and reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.

US dependence on foreign oil

The United States is already involved in a marginal production and use of ethanol fuel as the alternative to gasoline. A wider integration of ethanol fuel is quite plausible if it receives some solid governmental support. There is a good chance of resistance from corporate oil giants.

There is also another promising biofuel technology called Algae fuel also known as oilgae. Based on laboratory experiments, it is claimed that algae can produce up to 30 times more energy per acre than land crops such as soybeans. If this technology becomes commercially integrated, then the United States could fulfill and replace its petroleum needs by allocating the amount of land that is roughly equivalent to the size of Maryland for algaculture (farming algae).


My prediction is that biofuel energy sources will continue to be further developed in the U.S, but not enough to make the U.S. Independent on the use of foreign oil by 2025. It is highly unlikely that the U.S. will actually be able to fully integrate the use of biofuels as part of alternative sources of energy, mainly due to the resistance and vested interest in the continuation of petroleum use by the corporate oil giants.

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