Biofuels are derived from biomass which includes trees, crops, algae, and other plants, as well as agricultural and forest residues. Biofuel has been produced for over a century; early transportation pioneers such as Henry Ford and Rudolf Diesel envisioned that their initial engines would run on ethanol and vegetable oil, respectively.
Biofuels are “ecological” fuels that replace the use of oil in transportation in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on imports of crude oil.
There are currently two basic approaches to sourcing biofuel feedstock; growing plants such as corn or soybeans specifically for energy use, or using waste animal oils. There is significant research and development involved in the improvement of commercial biofuels technologies.
In the document “Biofuels,” ScottMadden addresses the two principal biofuels, which are ethanol blends for automobile and light trucks and biodiesel blends for heavier trucks, construction equipment, and fuel oil applications. We also explore the details of the technology and research and development efforts and the costs, funding, and investment issues, and we provide a profile of some of the emerging environmental and regulatory issues surrounding the development of biofuels.