Since the industrial revolution, we have been using fossil fuels in the form of coal, crude oil, and natural gases to create energy through the process of combustion to be able to generate electricity, run vehicles, cook food, heat our homes and power industry and manufacturing. Fossil fuels are a product of decayed plant and animal matter, which take millions of years for this transformation to take place. However, as we rapidly changed the world with new technologies that became available for many, we started to grow concerns of how much we have left? As it is a non-renewable resource, and the impact of the use these fossil fuels, and the effect that they were having on the environment, causing an increase in greenhouse gases which has had a negative effect on global warming, the gradual rise of the average temperature of the Earth’s climate.
Over the last 200 years we have become dependent on the use of fossil fuels, but continuing use of fossil fuels will become unfeasible. This is why biofuels are being to developed to find a feasible option that can replace the use of fossil fuels. Biofuels are being produced from crops, algae and animal wastes. The two major biofuels that we currently use in Australia is ethanol, it is produced from a biomass using fermentation process, it can also be produced by the hydration of alkenes and haloalkanes. Ethanol can only be used as a fuel additive, a mixture of unleaded fuel and 10 percent ethanol (E10) and biodiesel, a diesel produced from organic sources like crops and waste oils.
Bioethanol is the produced from agricultural crops such as corn, sorghum, wheat, sugar cane and even biomass like vegetable waste, at a distillery, where a fermented ethanol and water mixture are heated. Since the ethanol evaporates faster than water, the ethanol rises through a tube and is collected in second container where cools and condenses, leaving the water behind. However, a major problem with producing ethanol is food waste as crops are used to produce ethanol, the price of food increases, which continues to add to the increasing problem of food shortages around some areas of the world. Another problem with the production of ethanol, is that crop the produced to processed into fuel cannot grow on the same land that is produced for food, which has also resulted in the clearance of land to produce extra crops.
Biodiesels can be produced from fatty acids, such as corn, palm, coconut, sunflower, and peanut oils. Fatty acids contain long carboxylic acids, that can be saturated or unsaturated.
Generally, most biodiesel is produced from waste vegetable oil from industrial food producers and restaurants. This allows the cost of biodiesel to compete against the price of diesel
During combustion a fuel is mixed with oxygen, compressed and then ignited to produce energy in order to get power, the higher octane rating a fuel has, the higher the fuel can be compressed before igniting. When ethanol combusts, it releases less carbon dioxide than regular petrol, ethanol also has a higher-octane rating than ethanol allowing more energy to be produced. During the production of ethanol, whilst crops are grown photosynthesis takes place allowing carbon dioxide to be taken out of the environment which in turn reduces the amount of the net carbon dioxide produced. However, to produce petrol, crude oil has to be rigged from the earth, and then the crud oil is placed in a distillation tube where it is boiled allowing the lighter elements, starting with gas, petrol, naphtha, Kerosene, Diesel oil, Fuel oil and at the bottom bitumen residue is left behind. This process requires a large amount of energy to produce the amount of petrol needed which in turn results in a higher net carbon dioxide.
Combustion of biodiesel releases less carbon dioxide than regular diesel, however has produces around 9 percent less energy than regular diesel. The fuel efficiency of biodiesel and regular diesel there is very little differences, like ethanol, biodiesel has a high flash point allowing the biodiesel-oxygen mixture to be compressed further than regular diesel-oxygen. However, if your engine has not been modified or tuned you can run a mixture of 20% biodiesel to 80% regular diesel, although with engine modification and tuning you can use of 100% biodiesel, without having technical or performance issues.
The use of biodiesel is being tested in aircrafts, trains, and heavy vehicles such as trucks. With manufacturers developing and producing engines that accommodate the use of biodiesels.