Questions Technology

How do biofuels affect the environment?


Rose M Domingo

Anything but predictable

Biofuels are the fuels made from recently harvested plant materials like crops and recently died plants. Biofuels are usually in liquid forms. There are two main types of Biofuels which are Ethanol and Bio-Diesel. Ethanol is used as a substitute for gasoline whereas Biodiesel is used as a substitute for diesel.

Biofuels are probably the best substitute for traditional fossil fuels. They have both positive and negative impacts on the environment, which are discussed below.

Positive Impacts of Biofuels

  • The most prime feature of Biofuels is that it is a renewable source of energy. The fossil fuels, which are composed of hydrocarbons (formed by decomposition of plant material under high temperature and pressure, over long periods) takes thousands of years to build up. The biofuels, on the other hand, can be prepared by harvesting crops and is thus a renewable source of energy.
  • Biofuels are an ideal source of energy for countries with less/no oil reserves.
  • The end products of Biofuels which is mainly carbon-di-oxide is taken up by different plant sources which prevent environmental pollution. Fossil fuels on burning produce a lot of smoke and other potentially harmful gases which affects the environment and causes global warming. Biofuels produces very less smoke, and no such harmful gases are formed and thus is best suitable for a clean environment.
  • Biofuels contain several factors which maintain the condition of the vehicular engines, which in turn improves their longevity.

Negative Impacts of Biofuels

  • Production Cost
    For producing biofuels, a large field is required for the cultivation of crops. The production, then harvesting, followed by extraction of biofuels from the crops is a very tedious and costly process.
    For the conversion of plant materials into biofuels, a lot of expensive machines are used, which in turn adds up to the total cost.
  • Pollution from machinery
    It is true that Biofuels itself does not pollute the environment, but the machines used in the conversion of plant materials into biofuels produces several gases which pollute the environment.
  • Excess Water Requirement
    The crops harvested for biofuels requires an ample supply of water which produces a tremendous pressure on the amount of freshwater present.
  • The scarcity of Food for consumption
    When a large field is cultivated for the only production of biofuels, less amount of land is available for cultivation of crops for consumption.

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