Biofuel Pros & Cons

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Biofuels are fuels produced from plant or animal products or wastes instead of fossil fuels. Today, two of the most common produced biofuels are ethanol and biodiesel. The main purpose of biofuels is to increase the use of more environmentally friendly fuels and, at the same time, reduce the use of fossil fuels. Biofuels are generally more environmentally friendly but, like any other fuel sources, they also have pros and cons.

Biofuel Basics

Ethanol is one of the most usable biofuel options available in the United States and corn is the most often used plant matter in ethanol production. When ethanol is processed into biofuel, the plant matter is first broken down into simple sugars and starches and then fermented and distilled into alcohol. After this, the ethanol is mixed with the gasoline, mostly in 10 percentage volume levels. You can recognize this ethanol mixed fuel by its name E10. Higher concentration biofuel E85 is meant for specialized cars called flexible fuel vehicles, but E10 is suitable for all vehicle on the market today.

Environmental Pros

Because ethanol is produced from plant matter, it is naturally renewable. Corn grows quickly, so farmers can harvest a new crop after only six months. Mixing ethanol with gasoline in any concentration reduces the need of imported fossil fuels and decreases the dependence on foreign oil. In addition, when compared to vehicles using unleaded gasoline, biofuels reduce the amount of carbon monoxide and other air pollutants and therefore lessen the effects of global warming. You don’t have to purchase a hybrid vehicle to get the advantages of lower pollutant emissions because gasoline mixed with ethanol is compatible with your current vehicle already.

Economic Pros

Corn used to make ethanol can be grown and processed domestically in the United States. Increased need to plant and grow corn crops, construction of ethanol plants, supervising ethanol production, and maintenance and development of the technology needed to produce ethanol-based gasoline increases available jobs, especially in rural communities where most ethanol plants are located. In addition, producing ethanol is very cost effective as it is relatively inexpensive.

Energy Cons

One of the biggest problems ethanol production has is its energy-intensive production. Corn farming and corn-based ethanol production use almost as much energy to produce as the final product itself provides. Recent developments in technology are, however, quickly changing this. Another drawback is that ethanol contains less energy than gasoline if you compare how many miles per gallons your car gets with conventional gasoline versus gasoline mixed with ethanol.

Environmental Cons

A major environmental concern of industrial level corn production is the ability to meet the increased demand. Growing demand for land suitable for corn production can have a devastating effect on the habitat of species that currently occupy the land, leading to severe habitat loss for several species of animals and plants. In addition, farmers might be more interested in growing crops for fuel production than for food. Reduced food supplies can increase food prices, especially in developing countries, and cause worldwide hunger.

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