Biofuels are high-energy liquid transportation fuels derived from agriculture, forestry waste or other sustainable biomass feedstock. The most common biofuels are bio-ehtanol and biodiesel which are used in transport. There are other biofuels also in use such as pure vegetable oil and biogas. The International Energy Agency (IEA) stated that up to 27% of world transportation can be provided by biofuel by the year 2050. The IEA technology roadmap shows how biofuel production can be expanded in a sustainable way. Widespread deployment of biofuels is important in reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the transportation sector as its demand for transport fuels is rising globally. The increase of biofuel consumption in a sustainable way can bring important life cycle benefit for the environment.
There are various methods done to reduce dependency on fossil fuel and carbon footprint to achieve an eco-friendly lifestyle. One of the new researches is converting the common algae into renewable fuel that can be used in automobiles with combustible type engines. According to the research done in the University of Kansas, the algae can survive on sunlight, nitrogen, phosphorous and carbon dioxide from which organic acids and biofuel is produced. Carbohydrates are extracted after scraping the algae and drying it and which are converted to natural sugars. The sugars are converted into butyric, lactic and acetic acids via fermentation process. The butyric acid is again converted into butanol and this process was made faster by electrodeionization. It is a special technique developed to make the entire fuel conversion process speedier and less costly. Thus, it makes the new conversion process less expensive and certainly more efficient. This process makes the water healthier and less polluted and the algae is safe for marine flora and fauna as it uses extra nitrogen and phosphorous in the existent water. By growing and harvesting the raw material, this process can make rivers and lakes healthier.
Biofuel is currently produced from plants and microbes and that the carbohydrate, fats or oils generated are refined to produce biofuel. But now there is a new discovery to get the microbes produce fuel from the proteins instead of utilizing the protein for its growth. This new research is being done in the University of California in Los Angeles wherein their focus is to induce microbes to produce a specific kind of proteins that can be refined into biofuel. They are letting the cells to retain the nitrogen, take out just the ammonia, and once done with biofuel reduction, the residue is a better kind of fertilizer due to the low nitrogen levels. This will help lessen greenhouse emissions during fertilizer production as this will reprocess the nitrogen back and help in maintaining a nitrogen neutral state. This will result to less harmful emissions during fertilizer production.
In the United States, the Army is leading the way in biofuel and alternative energy production in order to reduce the demand load. The US Army helps in reducing energy costs by using 4,000 new electric vehicles by 2014, multiple net-zero solutions for bases and the use a new 500-megawatt solar power plant that will help end the reliance of the base on the public electric grid. The US Army stated that they will continue to take risks, set example, and try new initiatives to responsibly use energy. As for the Navy, they are increasing to 50% on all shore-based energy from alternative resources and ensuring that 50% of all Naval stations’ energy consumption attain a net-zero by 2020. The Navy also launched a carrier strike group that will run completely on alternative fuels including an aircraft carrier, two destroyers, submarine, and F-18 Hornet fighters. And as for the US Air Force, they emphasized on establishing alternative fuels for the Air Force to secure the reliability of supply and prevent price volatility. The Air Force is using renewable sources as an alternative to its 37 bases.
A global support for advanced biofuel research and development is still in need for support to improve conversion efficiencies and reduce costs. Sustainability of biofuels is an important step towards assurance that the biofuel production and use will result to a positive socio-economic and environmental impact.