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Bio fuel

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  • Published
    6th Aug, 2019

A Nano carbon catalyst developed by IIT-Hyderabad can be used to convert corn cob waste into valuable fuels


A Nano carbon catalyst developed by IIT-Hyderabad can be used to convert corn cob waste into valuable fuels



  • Any fuel that is derived from biomass—that is, plant or algae material or animal waste.
  • Feedstock material can be replenished readily, bio fuel is considered to be a source of renewable energy, unlike fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal, and natural gas.
  • Bio fuel is commonly advocated as a cost-effective and environmentally benign alternative to petroleum and other fossil fuels
  • The term bio fuel is usually used to reference liquid fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel
  • Bio fuels can also include solid fuels like wood pellets and biogas or syngas

Bio fuels

  • Jatropha: Jatropha curcas is multipurpose non edible oil yielding perennial shrub. This is a hardy and drought tolerant crop can be raised in marginal lands with lesser input.
  • Sugarbeet: Sugar beet is a biennial sugar producing tuber crop, grown in temperate countries. Now tropical sugar beet varieties are gaining momentum in tropical and sub tropical countries, as a promising alternative energy crop for the production of ethanol.
  • Sorghum: Sorghum is the most important millet crop occupying largest area among the cereals next to rice. It is mainly grown for its grain and fodder. Alternative uses of sorghum include commercial utilization of grain in food industry and utilization of stalk for the production of value-added products like ethanol, syrup and jaggery and bio enriched bagasse as a fodder and as a base material for cogeneration.
  • Pongamia: There is several non edible oil yielding trees that can be grown to produce bio fuel. Karanja is one of the most suitable trees. It is widely grown in various parts of the country.

Categories of bio fuels

  • First generation bio fuels - First-generation bio fuels are made from sugar, starch, vegetable oil, or animal fats using conventional technology. Common first-generation bio fuels include Bio alcohols, Biodiesel, Vegetable oil, Bio ethers, Biogas.
  • Second generation bio fuels - These are produced from non-food crops, such as cellulosic bio fuels and waste biomass (stalks of wheat and corn, and wood). Examples include advanced bio fuels like bio hydrogen, bio methanol.
  • Third generation bio fuels - These are produced from micro-organisms like algae.
  • Fourth Generation Bio fuels - Four Generation Bio-fuels are aimed at not only producing sustainable energy but also a way of capturing and storing co2. Biomass materials, which have absorbed co2 while growing, are converted into fuel using the same processes as second generation bio fuels. This process differs from second and third generation production as at all stages of production the carbon dioxide is captured using processes such as oxy-fuel combustion. This system not only captures and stores carbon dioxide from the atmosphere but it also reduces co2 emissions by replacing fossil fuels.  


  • Cost: Bio fuels prices have been falling and have the potential to be significantly less expensive than gasoline and other fossil fuels. In fact, ethanol is already cheaper than diesel and gasoline. This is particularly true as worldwide demand for oil increases, oil supplies dwindle, and more sources of bio fuels become apparent.
  • Source material: Whereas oil is a limited resource that comes from specific materials, bio fuels can be manufactured from a wide range of materials including crop waste, manure, and other by-products. This makes it an efficient step in recycling.
  • Renewability: It takes a very long time for fossil fuels to be produced, but bio fuels are much more easily renewable as new crops are grown and waste material is collected.
  • Security: Bio fuels can be produced locally, which decreases the nation's dependence upon foreign energy. By reducing dependence on foreign fuel sources, countries can protect the integrity of their energy resources and make them safe from outside influences.
  • Economic stimulation: Because bio fuels are produced locally, bio fuel manufacturing plants can employ hundreds or thousands of workers, creating new jobs in rural areas. Bio fuel production will also increase the demand for suitable bio fuel crops, providing economic stimulation to the agriculture industry.
  • Lower carbon emissions: When bio fuels are burned, they produce significantly less carbon output and fewer toxins, making them a safer alternative to preserve atmospheric quality and lower air pollution.


  • Energy output: Bio fuels have a lower energy output than traditional fuels and therefore require greater quantities to be consumed in order to produce the same energy level. This has led some noted energy analyststo believe that bio fuels are not worth the work to convert them to ethanol rather than electricity.
  • Production carbon emissions: Several studieshave been conducted to analyze the carbon footprint of bio fuels, and while they be cleaner to burn there are strong indications that the process to produce the fuel - including the machinery necessary to cultivate the crops and the plants to produce the fuel - has hefty carbon emissions. In addition, cutting forests to grow crops for bio fuels adds to carbon emissions.
  • High cost: To refine bio fuels to more efficient energy outputs, and to build the necessary manufacturing plants to increase bio fuel quantities, a high initial investment is often required, making its production currently more expensivethan other ways to fuel cars, even though this could change in the future.
  • Food prices: As demand for food crops such as corn grows for bio fuel production, it raises pricesfor necessary staple food crops.
  • Food shortages: There is concernthat using valuable cropland to grow fuel crops could have an impact on the cost of food and could possibly lead to food shortages.
  • Water use:Massive quantities of water are required for proper irrigation of bio fuel crops as well as to manufacture the fuel, which could strain local and regional water resources.

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