Most Widespread Types of Biofuels: Part 2

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Biofuels of the 2nd generation

Besides the already mentioned, there are several further kinds of biofuels bearing tremendous potential to impact the future of transportation and energy fuels.

Energy crops, agricultural residues, forestry residues, algae and other non-food cellulosic materials are refined for the production of second generation biofuels. Derived from these feedstocks, biofuels are supposed to have a reduced demand of energy and chemicals for production. These raw materials do not clash with food production and are considered to be more sustainable.

2nd generation biofuel production of algal biofuels (sometimes also termed 3rd generation biofuel) exploits numerous algae and appropriate non-food aquatic biomasses. Due to algae’s versatility, biofuels derived thereof are promising to become the next “big thing” in biodiesel production.

Bio-SNG (Bio Synthetic Natural Gas) is produced by gasification of cellulosic materials into hydrogen and carbon monoxide. These components enable the subsequent production of biomethanol. Further, these intermediates can be proceeded to result in tailor made liquid fuels by a method called “Fischer Tropsch process”.

Advanced ethanol production (2nd generation cellulosic ethanol) uses straw, corn stover, or saw dust as feedstock. By separating paper fibers from municipal and commercial solid waste or at paper mills, cost effective hydrolysis technology has been a success in the production of bioethanol of the 2nd generation.

Much attention has been paid to the use of hydrogen as a biofuel. Biohydrogen is a gas that is biologically produced by bacteria in a variety of processes. Nowadays, it is commonly obtained by organic waste materials. Throughout the world, research groups are involved in the development of hydrogen as an energy carrier or fuel. The biggest drawback in extensive application of hydrogen is the fact that production of it is still more costly than using conventional fossil fuels.

Another kind of an alcohol based biofuel is biobutanol. Biobutanol derives from biomass by fermentation. Biomass contains large amounts of sugars. Microbes are introduced to these biomasses to break down the sugars and prepare various alcohols. Today, research for modifications of the most efficient microbes to be used for biobutanol production are prioritized in search for bioalcohols. Due to its enhanced energy efficiency, biobutanol is a better fuel alternative than ethanol but the cost of its production can not compete with bioethanol.

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