Ethanol: Biofuel for Future Generation
Petroleum has been the transportation fuelbut it’s not the only fuel that can run our cars and trucks. Crops such as corn and soybeans are the main sources for the most common types of biofuels in use today, ethanol and biodiesel fuel.Ethanol is simply alcohol fermented and distilled from the sugars in plants.Ethanol has less energy density than gasoline.
Biofuels are attractive because they can be used in gasoline and diesel engines, but unlike oil, they’re renewable. Biofuels also help lower tailpipe emissions because they burn cleaner than petroleum fuels, with lower greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, biofuels are generally grown and produced domestically rather than shipped from halfway around the world. However, there are trade-offs. Within the limits of current technology, biofuels can be costly and energy-intensive to produce. Another major knock against biofuels is that using potential food crops for fuel can reduce availability and raise prices of those crops. How successful biofuels will be in the future will depend on how well researchers are able to overcome these obstacles, and how wise we are in choosing government policies that give us the best results.
The federal government is also working to increase the use of biofuels: Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the volume of required biofuel was increased from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022.