If you have heard a lot of talk about Bioenergy, alternative fuels, or renewable energy, then you may already know what it is. On the other hand, you may not know a great deal about different sorts of fuel, and wonder what we may be using to provide electricity, and to fuel our vehicles in a few years time.
In simple terms, Bioenergy is the fuel provided by recently living natural materials, such as from plants, wood, or from animal fats. Burning wood for heat is a good example of Bioenergy. In more complicated terms, Bioenergy can be produced by using genetically modified bacteria to create cellulosic ethanol. Although oil and coal are made from organic mater, it is not considered to be Bioenergy, as it was not living recently.
How is Bioenergy used in real-life situations?
Liquid Bioenergy such as Bioethanol and Biodiesel can be used to replace existing petrol and diesel, with little or no modification to the engine. Some major vehicle manufacturers already support this technology and it is becoming more widespread.
Bioethanol is created from fermenting the sugar or starch portions of agricultural raw materials. Sugar cane and sugar beet, and maize are commonly used in order to produce fuel. Currently, the US, Brazil and China are the largest producers of Bioethanol. Brazil uses Bioethanol to power the majority of its vehicles.
Biodiesel comes from edible plant oils, such as rape seed and palm oil, and also from inedible plant oils. Waste cooking oil can be used to create Biodiesel.
Biogas is created from methane and carbon dioxide, and is produced from Biomass, such as manure, sludge, sewage, feedstock, and other biodegradable waste. Biogas can be burned to produce electricity, or mixed with natural gas to be used in vehicles.
Solid Bioenergy, such as wood, charcoal and Biomass Pellets, is burned heat or to produce electricity.
Bioenergy is been seen as a potential suitable replacement for fossil fuels in some applications, although the technology available is not quite appropriate yet.
Some locations, such as BioTown, also known as Reynolds, Indiana, USA, are looking at becoming self-sufficient, so that they don’t rely on additional energy sources, and make better use of their existing resources, and recycling facilities.
Bioenergy is ideal for using in locations where there is not much access to imported fuel, such as in some remote, or developing countries. Plants can be grown specifically to be used a as fuel, and can be grown exactly where they are needed, which dramatically reduces the financial and environmental costs and the safety risks associated with transporting and storing fuel.