From biomass to fuels
Biofuels are renewable liquid fuels made from biomass. They are primarily used to fuel vehicles, but they can also fuel engines or fuel cells for electricity generation. The two most common biofuels are ethanol and biodiesel.
Ethanol is an alcohol made by fermenting organic matter rich in sugars, starch or cellulose. It is primarily made from grains or other renewable agricultural materials, by feeding organic matter into large heated tanks called digesters and adding chemicals or yeasts to change the materials into alcohol. At present, ethanol is mostly used as a fuel additive, mixed with gasoline, to enhance vehicle performance and improve the emissions quality.
Biodiesel is produced by combining vegetable oils with fatty acid biomass feedstocks, alcohol and a catalyzing agent. This clean-burning fuel can be blended with conventional diesel fuel to reduce vehicle emissions or, in its pure form, as an alternative fuel for diesel engines. Biodiesel can be made from animal fats, waste vegetable oils and crops such as soybean, canola, corn and sunflowers.
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