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Pros and Cons of Biofuel

Poushali Ganguly
Biofuel is a type of organic fuel that can be renewed. Thus, it gains an edge over nuclear or fossil fuels. Let us understand the pros and cons of this fuel in this Nature extract.
In this age, when we are already facing energy-deficit issues, there are many benefits of biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel to name a few). The very good characteristic of biofuel is that these fuels are obtained from agricultural crops. This means, they are renewable. Agricultural crops are domestically produced by farmers.
The availability of this fuel decreases our dependence on unstable foreign sources of oil. Moreover, ethanol and biodiesel discharge pollutants, which are comparatively less harsh than the emissions by petroleum-based gasoline and diesel.
They also do not add to global warming, as they only release carbon dioxide (CO2) to the environment, which their source plants absorbed from the atmosphere.


Apart from the fact that biofuels help us to keep the environment clean, they also help us to use the resources provided by nature in an effective way. They reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which are depleting at a rapid pace.
As stated above, they do not increase the pollution level anymore, since they produce very less carbon dioxide compared to other fuels. In addition to this, the emission of other harmful gases like carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide is comparatively lesser.
Biofuel comes across as a high-quality fuel, and can be used within the kind of infrastructure we now have, without much upgradation or improvement. They also support the agricultural community of the world and contribute in its development.
Biofuels are considered as a potential substitute for non-renewable sources of energy, though they are not readily available like other renewable sources of energy such as solar energy, wind energy, water, or hydro energy for that matter.
Biofuel is not at all difficult for people to transition to without special apparatus or a change in the model of vehicle or home heating infrastructure; it can just be filled in the existing car, truck, or home oil tank.
However, if gasoline has to be replaced with ethanol, then a "flex-fuel" model is a must-have that can run on either fuel. In other cases, a vehicle would run as smoothly on a biodiesel as on a regular diesel.


The advantages do convince us that biofuel can replace all the powerful fossil fuels. We may even be compelled to think that governments across the world should encourage the production and use of biofuels since it considerably decreases the use of fossil fuels. The umbrella term would be non-renewable sources of energy like coal and petroleum.
Environmentalists say that use of biofuels can create various kinds of environmental problems and can emit gases that aid the greenhouse effect. Therefore, the production of biofuel is turning into a bigger challenge everyday since there is an upward rise in the need for forests as well.
Statistically to produce just five percent of the total diesel consumption of United States, approximately sixty percent of the crops would have to be diverted towards the production of diesel.
In fact, there are a few questions regarding the production of biofuel, since it seems they actually require more energy, than their ability to generate. So energy contributed to the production of energy and then the energy utilized to convert the crops into biofuel just doesn't add up to the energy it actually produces back.
Therefore, at the end of the day, there is no conservation of energy. Evidently, the production cost of biofuel turns out to be higher. We know the pros and cons of liquid fuel. However, switching the type of fuel from liquid to biofuel will take some time.
There is no jury-rigged expedient for weaning ourselves of fossil fuels and start using biofuel one fine morning though we can hope that in the future, we might use a combination of sources, that is, from wind and ocean currents, hydrogen, solar, and biofuel, meeting our energy needs.
However, the bottom line still remains the same―serious reduction in fuel consumption. This is the need of the hour because if we do not reduce fuel consumption, we would end up exhausting all the available sources of energy. Hence, the best alternative is to conserve fuel.