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Why haven't bio-fuels replace fossil fuels yet?
Scientists have discovered a new way of making biofuel (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110927134254.htm) but hasn't biofuel been around for quite a while now? What are the reasons why it hasn't fully replaced fossil fuels yet?
Oct 14, 2011
Biofuels have truly been around since cars were invented. According to the National Geographic, Henry Ford initially planned to use ethanol and peanut oil to run the first Ford automobiles. At that time though, there was an abundant supply of gasoline and diesel that it was cheaper to proceed with these types of energy.
A hundred year later, however, the environmental concerns, as well as the limited supply of fossil fuels have again pushed the development of biofuels and other alternative sources of energy. The most common type of biofuel around the world is ethanol, with Brazil leading its use from sugar cane as raw materials. Another type of biofuel include biodiesel which is very popular in Europe and is commonly mixed with mineral diesel. Many European gas stations observe 5% mix of biodiesel with mineral diesel.
The main problem with biofuels is its inefficient supply. It takes large amounts of raw materials and processing to produce biofuels that there is ongoing debate that in some cases, the total energy used to produce biofuel is more than the output energy.
In relation with this, if we were to develop a sustainable source of biofuel supply, there is a need of vast land areas to grow plants for biofuel production. Environmentalists are concerned that this will result to loss of rainforests and lands that are home to wild animals and plants.
If governments are to push for the development of biofuel and support crop production for this purpose, there is also a major concern that the primary purpose of farmers will be shifted to crop production for biofuels instead of food. The reduction of food supply could lead to significant price increases.
All in all, there is no sustainable source of biofuel at the moment that can lead it to replace the prevalent use of fossil fuels. In the near future, we hope that we can find a source that will not result to more environmental problems as well as food supply concerns.
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