Biofuels are used globally and industries are expanding in Europe, Asia, North and South America. They have negligible content of sulphur and release low amounts of carbon dioxide. It is estimated that by 2050, biofuels could reduce greenhouse gases by 1.7 billion tons per year, this is equivalent to 80 percent of current transportation-related emissions.
Biofuels are derived from various sources. On the same basis, they are grouped into first, second, and third generations. The first-generation biofuels have been open to a lot of criticism due to agricultural disputes as they involve the cultivation of crops.
Biofuels find their applications in transportation, energy generation and environmental detox. They can be converted to hydrogen vapors used in adjacent fuel cells. Biofuels are also used for cleaning oil spills and grease. Moreover, due to the huge scarcity of fossil fuels prevalent right now, biofuels could possibly be used as an alternative source of energy as it is a renewable source.
Second-generation biofuels are largely derived from forest biomass and now are the most preferable way of extracting biodiesels. This bulk material is a renewable source of energy and is called biomass.
Biofuels derived from lignocellulosic woody biomass of forests are more convenient considering the fact that there is no cultivation required and it is more widespread.
Wood biomass from plantations, short-rotation woody crops, and evergreen forests represents a significant renewable feedstock for biofuels, bioenergy, and bioproducts to replace diminishing fossil-based products. Paper and used wood products which cannot be recycled may be used as sources of woody biomass and could be used for the production of
energy. Woody biomass obtained from forests can be used to produce power, heat, and biofuels, thus acting as a promising renewable source of energy.
However, the technologies required for extraction and conversion are presently not affordable. Major challenges include low production yield and sensitivity of microbes in presence of inhibitors and biofuels in fermentation media.
Let’s see what the future has for us as India is actively introducing ways to mix ethanol and petrol.