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By: Jon O’Leary, Hannah Bass, Elizabeth Main, and AzeminaMalkic
Historical Context The concept of biofuels is surprisingly old. In the 1890’s Rudolf Diesel, whose invention now bears his name, had envisioned vegetable oil as a fuel source for his engine. In fact, much of his early work revolved around the use of biofuel. In 1900, for example, at the World Exhibition in Paris, France, Diesel demonstrated his engine by running it on peanut oil. Similarly, Henry Ford expected his Model T to run on ethanol, a corn product. Eventually, in both Diesel's and Ford's cases, petroleum entered the picture and proved to be the most logical fuel source. This was based on supply, price and efficiency, among other things. Though it wasn't common practice, vegetable oils were also used for diesel fuel during the 1930s and 1940s.
History Cont. It wasn’t until the the 1970s and 1980s that the idea of using biofuels was revisited in the United States. One of the most important events occurred in 1970 with the passage of the Clean Air Act by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This allowed the EPA to more closely regulate emissions standards for pollutants like sulfur dioxides, carbon monoxide, ozone and nitrogen oxides (NOx). This set the stage for developing cleaner-burning fuels. This also set standards for fuel additives.
Sources of Conflict The biggest concern is that with the rising demand for biofuels; the demand for crops will rise even more. This problem may require the takeover of extensive farm land to supply the surplus needed. In this case forests and wild habitats may be at risk. Some countries fear that the wealthy countries may pay high prices for plants such as corn or beets leaving shortages in countries that rely on those plants for food.
More Conflicts Although biofuels incineration is a “go green” concept; it still has pollutants that are released into the air we breathe during the incineration process. Studies show that corn-based bio ethanol has a higher combined environmental and health burden than conventional fuels. What is even worse is that it is made extensively in the United States. Biofuels, particularly ethanol, are toxic to water ecosystems and have caused major decreases of aquatic life. A 2008 Missouri spill of biofuel byproducts leaked into waterways and killed the entire population of endangered mussels that resided there.
Major Players • The 5 major biofuel companies: • -Australian Renewable Fuels : World production of bio diesel is around five billion liters annually. • -BlueFire Ethanol Fuels, Inc: utilizes the Arkenol patented process for producing ethanol from wood wastes. • -Cosan: produces clean energy from sugar cane, a renewable and high-performance resource.
More Major Players • -Coskata, Inc. is a biology-based renewable energy business The company maintains a low-cost platform technology, allowing for the production of fuels from a variety of source materials, such as agriculture and biomass. • -Sapphire Energy: critical element to the bio fuels industry. The company produces 91-octane gasoline, 89-cetane diesel and jet fuel—all from a mixture of algae, sunlight and carbon dioxide (CO2)—known as, “Green Crude.”
Proposed Solutions The operator is supplied with conventional gasoline and with bioethanol in a new dedicated tank. By means of a specific distribution column equipped with a dosing and blending device, the user can then choose (at the tank filling) the fuel blend he wishes (E5-E20 or E85). This strategy allows bioethanol delivery directly from the producers, thereby optimizing both the logistics and the fuel price. It also allows people to chose whether or not they want to use bioethanol.
Sources • http://www.biofuels-platform.com • http://www.auto.howstuffworks.com • www.youtube.com • http://www.energydigital.com/industry-focus/ • http://sites.google.com/site/ethanol • http://www.news.bric.com/articles/ • http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/ • http://www.foe.org/biofuels
Video • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_Fw6y4T3Po