What Now and What Next for Global Biofuel Technologies?

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This paper provides an overview of first- and second- generation biofuels. First-generation biofuels are ethanol-derived from food crops such as grains and sugar cane, and biodiesel, which use feedstocks of vegetable oils and animal fats. The technologies for manufacturing first-generation biofuels are generally mature and are commercially available. It is also noted that biogas is gaining favour in countries such as Sweden, where it currently accounts for about half the vehicle gas use. The focus of the paper then shifts to consider alternative processing paths under development, using non-food crops and agricultural and forestry residues. The two major pathways are: Biochemical — conversion of cellulose and hemicellulose to sugars and their fermentation to alcohol fuels and; Thermochemical — gasification of biomass to a syngas rich in carbon monoxide and hydrogen, and synthesis to fuels. The paper also considers the production and use of pyrolysis bio-oil as a fuel and as an intermediate product for conversion to transportation fuels. The land areas required for the production of various biofuels are considered, together with their greenhouse gas reduction potentials. Work related to the global potential of biofuels for meeting future energy needs is briefly discussed.

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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