One of the great things about biofuels is that they don’t possess the level of greenhouse gases that fossil fuels do. They’re also attractive because they can help the US meet some of its energy needs that are currently being supplied by foreign countries. Domestic supply is certainly preferable as it can supply more jobs for Americans.
Biofuels can be made from many natural items. These fuels start as biomass energy and can be obtained from five sources: garbage, landfill gases, wood, waste, and alcohol fuels. So in addition to providing fuel, energy and jobs to the US, biomass will help rid the country of a good portion of our over-abundant waste.
The largest source of energy from wood is pulping liquor, a waste product from processing pulp. Waste energy is the second largest source of biomass energy. The main contributors are municipal solid waste, manufacturing waste and landfill gas. Rotting garbage, along with agricultural and human waste, release methane gas, which is sometimes called “landfill gas” or “biogas.” Using these items to create an alternative energy source is a win-win situation.
Bioethanol is an alcohol made by fermenting sugar or starch crops. Cellulose from non-food sources, like trees and grasses, is also being developed for use in ethanol production. To illustrate the cellulose content – cotton has 90% while wood has around 50%. Even though ethanol can be used to fuel vehicles, it’s usually added to gasoline to increase the octane level and improve vehicle emissions. The United States already uses some bioethanol.
Vegetable oils and animal fats are used to create biodiesel. Like bioethanol, in its purest form biodiesel can be used as vehicle fuel but it’s usually used as an additive in diesel fuel to reduce the levels of hydrocarbons, particulates and carbon monoxide emissions. It’s the most common biofuel in Europe. Biodiesel burns clean, it’s non-toxic and biodegradable. It significantly lowers the emissions that produce acid rain and smog. The production of biodiesel supports farmers, agriculture and helps create more jobs. There’s really no downside to biodiesel.
Biomass used for electricity generation varies by country. In the US, forest by-products are often used. In Southeast Asia, agricultural waste is common and in the UK, farm animal residues are commonly used. This renewable energy source can be used for heating or electricity, or it can be converted to another form – as liquid biofuel or combustible biogas. Biomass is a natural material and depending on how it’s converted it can achieve different results:
- Chemical conversion will change biomass into other forms to make it easier to store or transport.
- Biochemical conversion uses bacteria and other microorganism enzymes to break down biomass.
- Thermal conversion alters biomass into another chemical form by using heat.
Carbis Fluid Handling specializes in, you guessed it, fuel handling whether your company uses tank trucks or rail cars for transporting. If your business deals with alternative fuels and needs loading/offloading products, fall prevention and safety equipment, metering skids, pumping systems and more, contact Carbis Fluid Handling today and see how we can help your business operate more efficiently.