What is Biofuel? what are its different types and its advantages?

When we are digging much in to energy and detailing each kind and types, it would ever be incomplete if we don’t discuss about biofuel. Let us look into what is biofuel, types of biofuel and also its advantages in detail.

What is Biofuel?

Biofuel are non-fossil fuels. It is a type of alternative cleaner fuel and energy that are derived from plants, domestic waste, commercial waste, industrial waste and agriculture. Biofuels are renewable and sustainable. It is produced from biomass. The biofuels can be mainly classified into primary biofuels and secondary biofuels. Primary biofuels include fuel wood used for cooking and heating purposes and organic matter. Secondary biofuels include liquid biofuels like biodiesel, ethanol and so on which is used in industries and automobiles. The energy derived from these biofuels is commonly known as bioenergy. This is a renewable source of energy can be replenished. The modern day technology uses landfills and waste dumping areas as bioenergy resources. There are 3 methods to convert the raw materials into the required energy forms are: chemical process which uses chemical agents for the break down, thermal process which uses heat for the conversion and biochemical process which uses bacteria for conversion to required energy form.


  1. Biodiesel
    Biodiesel is a renewable resource or a fuel that is made from vegetable oil, recycled cooking oil, soybean, palm oil, peanut oil, canola oil, animal fat and fatty acids. This process of conversion is known as transesterification. Biodiesel has versatile properties and can be used as diesel to vehicles. This can be a used as a replacement to petroleum and is biodegradable. The toxins produced are comparatively less as compared to petroleum. It is also safer to handle. The energy content in biodiesel is about 90% that of petroleum diesel.
  2. Bio ethanol
    Bio ethanol is a renewable fuel that is made from the fermentation of plant starch. This is also a byproduct of the chemical reaction with ethylene and other types of petroleum products. Bio ethanol can be produced in a few ways like fermentation, distillation and dehydration. One of the latest techniques for the production of ethanol is algenol which is done with the help of algae.  Bio ethanol is a clean gas with no toxins. It releases less amount of carbon di oxide similar to the amount released by plants. This considerably reduces green house gas emission. The energy content in bio ethanol is about 50% that of gasoline.
  3. Biogas
    Biogas is a renewable source of energy that is produced by the anaerobic digestion of biomass. In simpler terms, biogas is obtained when organic matter is broken down in the absence of oxygen. The raw materials used are manure, food waste, municipal waste, agricultural waste and sewage. Major proportion of biogas is methane and carbon di oxide. It also has small proportions of   hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen, carbon monoxide and siloxanes. Biogas is commonly used for heating, electricity and for automobiles.
  4. Biobutanol
    Butanol is a renewable source of energy that is similar to ethanol. It is a type of alcohol that can be procured through petro chemical process or by fermentation of sugar from agricultural crops. The energy content in butanol is the highest among the other gasoline alternatives. The toxic emissions are zero which in turn minimizes air pollution. Butanol can also be added to diesel to reduce emissions. It also serves as solvent in textile industry. It is also used as a base in perfumes.
  5. Bio hydrogen
    Bio hydrogen is a renewable source that is similar to biogas. It is process of producing hydrogen with the help of bacteria, algae and archaea biologically. This can be the perfect alternative for fossil fuel. Some of the common methods of developing bio hydrogen are photo fermentation, dark fermentation, direct photolysis and indirect photolysis.
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  1. Reduces green house gases :  one of the most striking advantages of using biofuels is that it does not emit toxins. Most of the above mentioned types when burned emit little carbon di oxide similar to what is needed by green plants. It does not give out harmful gases and does not make the air polluted. This in turn reduces the impact of global warming and ozone layer depletion.
  2. High engine performance : biodiesels can be used as an alternative for diesel in automobiles. By the use of these as alternative, the quality of the engine last longer. This in turn improves the performance of the vehicle.
  3. More energy efficient :  as compared to petroleum and diesel, these biofuels have proved to be more energy efficient.
  4. Renewable energy : biofuels are renewable source of energy as compared to fossil fuels. This is mainly because of the raw materials used are agricultural waste, plant waste, commercial waste and domestic waste. All these are available in plenty and thus these easily renewable.
  5. Burns cleaner : when these biofuels are burned, it does not produce any foul smell as it is organic. Very little or minimal amount of carbon di oxide is emitted which hardly makes a difference as compared to fossil fuels.
  6. Healthier humans : by using biofuels, the impact of chemical fertilizers reduces to a great extent. The breathable environment becomes cleaner due to less green house gas emission. Thus the impact of global warming and ozone layer depletion decreases which will ultimately improve the general health of humans.
  7. Positive impact : since the gasoline and petroleum prices are increasing, more technology is being developed to use bio diesel and biogas in automobiles. These are considered good alternative to petroleum and gasoline and is economical. It saves the time and money of the drivers. This has a positive impact on the society in general.
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Biofuels are like saviors to the economy in general. They have lots of positive aspects when compared to fossil fuels. Significant research need to be conducted to optimize the use of all the types of biofuels as a whole. The main attraction to the use of biofuels is that the raw materials are cheaply available and economical. The transportation of these raw materials and the final product is cheaper. Since biofuels are mainly from crops, its manufacture can be done in every country. So in this way, each country will become self sufficient in building up of biofuels. This will reduce the monopolization of fuel. Thus this renewable resource is a boost to the environment in a great way.