Is Biofuel organic, scope for growth, uses, and future prospects?
Biofuel is an important renewable energy source for the growth of civilization. It is an organic substance produced from biomass. Biomass is a collection of various plant materials including grass, wood, crops, trees, agricultural wastes, non-edible vegetable oils, organic domestic waste, and algae, etc.
Biofuel is organic;
Biofuel is an important renewable energy source for the growth of civilization. It is an organic substance produced from biomass. Biomass is a collection of various plant materials including grass, wood, crops, trees, agricultural wastes, non-edible vegetable oils, organic domestic waste, algae, etc. The two most common and popular types of biofuels now in use are ethanol(CH4CH2OH) and biodiesel(methyl ester-RCO2CH3). Both biofuels represent the first generation of technology.
The second generation of biofuels is produced from cellulosic biomass like perennial grasses and municipal solid waste(MSW). The third-generation biofuel includes bio-CNG, and biodiesel, made from algae.
The raw materials of Ethanol and biodiesel;
Ethanol is an alcohol known as ethyl alcohol used as a blending agent with gasoline. The raw materials or feedstocks used for the production of ethanol include sugarcane, corn, rice, maize, corn stover, sugar beat, switchgrass, sorghum,mahua flower, etc. At the global level, about 40% of ethanol is produced from sugarcane and sugar beat whereas nearly 60% is from starch-containing feedstocks.
The principal raw materials used for the production of biodiesel include biological sources like vegetable seed oil, soybean oil, palm oil, nonedible oil, used cooking oil, algae, and some sorts of animal fats. It is to mention here that biodiesel is environment-friendly, biodegradable, non-toxic, and clean renewable energy source. Biodiesel has the same properties as conventional diesel.
Uses of biofuel;
Biofuel is a renewable source of energy. Bioethanol is used as motor fuel or used as a blending agent with gasoline to increase octane and cut down greenhouse gases(GHG). Further, it is used in the energy, chemical, plastic, and food industries. Biodiesel is used in the transportation, railway, and aviation sectors. The use of biofuel can reduce GHG by 70% compared to fossil fuel which is definitely a blessing for human civilization. Further, it can provide solutions for energy demand, answer to unemployment and increase the many-fold income of farming communities.
Scope for growth:
Biofuel is a renewable source of energy and its raw material comes from biomass. Biomass is cultivable. It can be cultivated in the field extensively and is profitable. Different leading countries including the USA, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, etc. have formulated and implemented dedicated national policies to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and give a big push for biofuel.
Brazil’s RenovaBio program has opened the eyes of the international communities. The ambitious program of the government has yielded results enabling the national ethanol blending rate at 27 percent. The US has made the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)mandatory by law to set production mandates for biofuels. In the world largest producer of ethanol is the US (41%) followed by Brazil(26%), Indonesia(4.5%), and China(2.9%). In 2019 around 47.4 billion liters of biodiesel were produced as revealed by the Renewable Fuels Association source.
Ethanol blending in petrol in India has increased from 2% in 2014 to 10% in 2022 and as per the report released by the Expert Committee on Roadmap for Ethanol Blending in India 20% blending of ethanol by 2025 is really achievable. It has fixed an ambitious target of 13.5 billion liters of ethanol by 2025 about a six-fold increase from 2.7 billion liters produced in 2021.
Further National Biofuel Coordination Committee(NBCC) has been constituted under the chairmanship of the Minister, of Petroleum & Natural Gas(P&NG) to provide overall coordination, effective end-to-end implementation, and monitoring of the biofuel program.
National Biofuel Policy 2018 of the government of India aims at reducing the dependency on imports by relying on fuel blending with biodiesel, bioethanol, and bio-CNG. PM Narendra Modi has an ambitious vision for India to become energy Independent by 2047 under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Initiative. Under the banner of the Make in India program it will promote the production of biofuel by industrial units located in Special Economic Zones(SEZs)/ Export oriented units.
On the occasion of the “Save Soil Movement” Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi said due to ethanol blending in petrol India has reduced Carbon emissions by 27 lakh tonnes and saved Rs 41,000 crore forex reserve. Further, the production of biofuel enriched the farming communities with Rs 40,000 crore, PM said.
Every project and ambitious program of any government has a bright future prospect. However, the future of the projects depends on the implementation at the ground level. As biomass is the feedstock and its production & availability heavily depends on land use patterns, cultivation, use of fertilizer, irrigation, farming communities, infusion of huge money, etc., proper coordination among the stakeholders is necessary.
The global transport biofuel market is heavily dependent on First Generation & Second Generation methods whereas lignocellulosic feedback produces less than 10 percent, where lies future growth prospects need to be harvested. The US uses maize for production of 40% of ethanol production, whereas Brazil produces 95% of the ethanol and biodiesel from sugarcane and soybean respectively. However, in the US, some more diverse feedstock is made available for the production of biodiesel including soybean oil, other waste oil, and fats together accounting for around 46% of the total production.
Other dedicated energy crops include short rotation crops (poplar, willow, eucalyptus), perennial crops(miscanthus, switchgrass, need canary grass, etc.), agriculture waste (straw, stover), forestry residues (treetops, branches, stumps) may be used for biofuel. Secondary residues including crop processing( coffee, rice, corn, cacao), and forestry processing (sawdust, bark) can be exploited for the purpose. The algae are said to be third-generation feedstock and a better alternative to 1G&2G biofuel sources such as corn and sugarcane. However, the uses of feedstock may be country specific on the basis of the availability of resources.
Biofuel is an organic and renewable liquid energy source. In the changing scenario of impending global warming and the limited resources of fossil fuels, biofuel may be one of the best complements to green hydrogen, solar energy, and wind energy. Large scope for the future growth of biofuel is available, however, the identification of more plant species including non-edible vegetable oils, and more impetus on R&D along with the infusion of huge money is needed.