Biofuel is a term used to describe fuels that are derived from biomass. In 2008 biofuels accounted for approx 1.8% of the world’s transport fuels. The development and refining of biofuels to use as a viable alternative to fossil fuels is underway as more ground breaking biofuel experiments are conducted using complicated bio matter like photosynthetic algae. The most common form of biofuels are bioethanol and biodiesel.
Bio Ethanol is an alcohol liquid made by fermenting the sugar of plant materials. The most common crops used for generating ethanol are high sugar producing crops such as sugar cane. In Australia ethanol is commonly added to petrol to reduce vehicle emissions and increase the octane of the fuel. Ethanol fuel is used widely in Brazil as an alternative to petrol.
Biodiesel is commonly made from vegetable/animal fats and recycled greases. Again it is usually used as a diesel additive but is increasingly being used by itself to power diesel engines. Pure biodeisel (B100) is the lowest emission diesel fuel and can be used in diesel engines manufactured from 1994 onwards. More complicated modern diesel engines may need to use biodiesel combined with mineral diesel. Biodiesel is also safer to handle and transport than it’s mineral alternative as it is biodegradable. From 2004 to 2005 the US biodiesel market grew 100%.
Biofuels in Australia
There are currently 3 commercial producers of biofuel in Australia. Government legislation imposes a 10% cap on ethanol added to fuel which results in a 90% petrol 10% ethanol blend. This blend, commonly called E10, is available at many Caltex, Shell, BP service stations. B2 and B5 biodiesel blends are marketed by Caltex.