Biofuels: are they Worth Producing?

By Carroll Colette J. Yorgey

Biofuels are worth producing. Biofuels in the form of biogas can be produced from animal and human waste. The cost of production of biogas is less since it is often done right on the farm or at the facility using the product. There is little transportation involved, which is one of the cost factors in the production of biofuel from corn and sugar cane. If the biofuel were used where it is produced there would be no transportation cost.

Biogas that is methane gas can be used to generate electricity. Biogas can also be used in the form of natural gas or liquefied natural gas. Farms and communities are beginning to produce and use biogas. Norcal in San Francisco produces biofuel from dog feces. Cattle ranchers are beginning to produce biogas from cattle waste. Biogas is used in homes in Nepal and to power trains in Sweden.

Rwandan prison facilities recently received the Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy for their work in producing biogas from human waste. Pacific Gas and Electric in California and Portland General Electric in Oregon are partnering with dairy farmers to convert animal waste to electricity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Department of Development have partnered to produce biofuel from animal waste.

Biofuels in the form of ethanol can be produced from plant life such as corn and sugar cane, but they can also be produced from algae, and in the form of biodiesel from leftover and used cooking oils. Biodiesel can be produced at home.

By producing and using biofuel we are reducing the pollution of methane gas which is more potent than CO2. Unproduced and unused farm waste materials can create highly toxic air, soil, and water pollution by seeping into soils, groundwater; and entering the atmosphere.

Biogas produced from human and animal waste is environmentally the cleanest fuel available and a top-rated fuel according to Swedish statistics.

The biggest problem with using biofuels in cars is that there are 647 million vehicles worldwide that operate on diesel and petroleum, so the infrastructure is not in place for biofuels since there is already an existing infrastructure in place for diesel and petroleum.

So costs for use in the way we have been using gasoline would be higher due to having to change infrastructure. But if people, farms, and facilities produce their own biofuels, the costs would be minimal in comparison to the high costs generated by pollution of the environment.

Biodiesel could be produced from used cooking oils used by restaurants. This could be done either individually or through a consortium. The individual or consortium would then use their own biofuel. This could be more energy efficient, less pollution-rendering fuels could be used and produced, and costs would be minimal.

Biogas has been around for a long time and has proved efficient and cost-effective. Therefore, every endeavor should be made to convert from fossil fuels to biofuels.

References:

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/
http://www.eere.energy.gov/
http://www.inhabitat.com/2007/06/19/dog_poop_power_for_san_francisco
http://environmentalgeography.wordpress.com/2007/09/24/power-poopp
http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/news/2005/07/68127

 

Copyright © 2018 Carroll Colette J. Yorgey. Edited and used with her permission.