The world is slowly turning away from fossil fuels. The traditional source of energy is considered harmful to the environment because of the amount of carbon dioxide produced when fossils are burned. People have been looking for alternative sources to rely on when it comes to generating power.
One of the alternatives they have found is biofuel, which is a fuel that is sourced from biomasses such as wastes from animals or materials from plants. It has proven to be a good substitute for fossil fuel because its sources can be restocked unlike coal, petroleum, and natural gas.
Advantages of biofuel
Biofuel is more cost-effective in terms of production. Add to that the fact that it does not contribute to the ongoing issue of global warming. Compared to fossil fuels, it produces fewer hazardous greenhouse gases that worsen the said issue, leading to the reduction of carbon emissions all over the planet.
Additionally, it also helps drive the economy’s growth. In a span of 10 years—from 1999 to 2009—the American biodiesel production climbed from 500,000 gallons or 1.89 million liters to 545 million gallons or 2.06 billion liters. This production increase led to the gross domestic product increasing by $4.28 billion.
There is also the fact that current engines need minimal or no modifications at all in order to accommodate biofuels. Depending on the ingredients used in making the biofuel, engines last longer and work more efficiently in places with cold temperatures.
The benefits surrounding biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel can make them sought-after alternatives. As more and more people recognize this, biofuel-related technologies around the world also increase. Some are used to extract biofuel from unusual sources, while others are used to process these resources that are usually thrown away because they are considered waste.
Celtic Renewables’ whiskey residue biofuel plant
In Scotland, there is a biofuel startup named Celtic Renewables. It intends to construct a plant in the town of Grangemouth in Stirlingshire this year. However, the facility has a twist; it will produce biobutanol, which Celtic Renewables dubbed as “whiskey fuel.”
Biobutanol is another kind of biofuel with pot ale and barley kernels called draff as its sources. Pot ale is the yeasty remnant in a still after the whiskey distillation process, while the kernels are essential in producing whiskey.
The company already tested the fuel last year in a car, and when using it as a fuel, there is no need to modify the engine. Celtic Renewables president and founder Martin Tangney stated that this would mark the first time that a vehicle has used fuel that came from whiskey production residues.
About the plant, Tangney said that it “will be the first of its kind in the world.” He also said that it would attract a lot of recognition to their home country because of the innovation the plant will bring.
Greenbelt Resources’ organic waste recycling system
Going to American shores, Greenbelt Resources Corp. (OTCMKTS:GRCO), a biotech company based in Paso Robles, California, has its organic waste recycling system, which is a technology used in producing ethanol.
From the name of its system, it uses food, beverage and other cellulosic wastes to produce commodities such as feeds, filtered water, fertilizer and fuel. It also operates on a local scale because it uses wastes from the local manufacturers of food and beverages to produce the said commodities that will be used by the community where the system is based.
Back in March 2017, the company announced its PRECO project (Paso Robles ECOsystem), which is a waste-to-energy system that the company engineered for the production of bioethanol. The system will use feedstocks like wastes from the Firestone Brewery and wineries within the Paso Robles area.
According to Greenbelt Resources CEO Darren Eng, the project “is the solution to a challenge inherent in current local-scale technologies.” He further detailed that small and medium operations like beverage and agricultural processors will benefit from PRECO because it is designed with them in mind. Recent testing also indicates the company’s “green” bioethanol may be in demand by the cannabis industry for use as an extraction solvent.
LLNL’s algae biofuel production
Also in the United States, there is the biofuel production of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). However, it also has a catch because the biofuel produced came from algae.
As it turned out, algae have so many oils in them, and the oils can be extracted through various methods. The most undemanding one is a similar method applied in an oil press. They are also less challenging to produce and obviously do not require a lot of land for the production, which makes them another excellent source of biodiesel.
Last December 2017, General Automation Lab Technologies (GALT) announced that the U.S. Department of Energy gave LLNL a three-year $1.5 million grant to work on enhancing the development and effectiveness of the algae. GALT is LLNL’s collaborator in this particular project.
The importance of alternative sources
The rise of innovative biofuel technologies will give consumers more options when it comes to energy sources. These do not only usher in a new era of renewable energy—they could also help the rural economy thrive.
Finally, biofuels help address the global problem of food wastage, where people dispose food due to reasons like failure to consume it before the expiration date.
Written by Anna Reyes