Not every country has vast crude oil resources. Compared with making ethanol from crops, the environmental benefits of making it from waste are clear: It diminishes the demand for landfills and cuts greenhouse gas emissions. Incredibly safe. To put it another way, think about a field of corn being grown for ethanol. Many of the studies show that the machinery used to cultivate crops emits large quantities of carbon emissions. It might seem counterintuitive at first, but some scientists argue that widespread biofuel production is a negative-sum game: Producing enough biodiesel or ethanol to replace one gallon of petroleum fuel, they argue, requires the energy equivalent to several gallons' worth of petroleum fuel [source: Pimentel]. 1. Biofuels are often produced from crops such as corn, sugarcane, and palm oil, which can be grown on a large scale. While the range of oil-producing products examined viable for biofuel is wide enough to grow in most zones, high-yield crops do not grow everywhere. Biofuels are considered carbon neutral because the carbon dioxide emitted when they are burned is offset by the carbon dioxide that was absorbed by the plants during photosynthesis. List of Disadvantages of Algae Biofuel. Will alternative fuels deplete global corn supplies? Long-time monoculture farms have to use much more artificial fertilizer than their more sustainable peers, increasing water pollution. However, the cost of biofuel production has been decreasing in recent years due to advancements in technology and economies of scale. Biofuels can be extracted from the waste of those crops as well. This necessarily destroys animal dwellings, microcosms (micro ecosystems), and reduces the overall health of a region's natural resources. (Dec. 13, 2010), Burpee. As crude oil prices rise, we need several other alternative energy solutions to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. "Ethanol Production Using Corn, Switchgrass, and Wood; Biodiesel Production Using Soybean and Sunflower." Biogas and syngas are two types of gaseous biofuels. Moreover, the crops that are grown to produce biomass absorb carbon dioxide which helps clean the air. Second, the oil these plants produce is not equal. Additionally, the amount of water used in biofuel production is also affected by the specific farming practices used. Biodiesel doesn't fare much better. Biofuels Disadvantages There are some complicating aspects about disadvantages of biofuels that we should look at. Water Usage 7. The transition to biofuels will affect especially economic sectors of agriculture, manufacture, reprocessing, recycling, and transportation. The second most common liquid biofuel is biodiesel, which is made primarily from oily plants (such as the soybean or oil palm) and to a lesser extent from other oily sources (such as waste cooking fat from restaurant deep-frying). Agricultural and Food Policy Center, Texas A&M University. The biomass pretreatment is one of the keys to the best use of organic waste and thus enhance the production of a biogas plant. But if the tractors that tend the field burn 75 gallons of fuel in the season, the truck to transport the corn to a processor burns 20 gallons on the trip, and the processor uses the energy of 40 gallons of fuel to run its distillation equipment, is the ethanol produced really an environmentally friendly, low-emission fuel? Algae can be formed in ponds or tanks on land or out at sea. 6. Biofuel and fertiliser can be made from putrefying gasses emitted by rotting food, in specialist containers called anaeorbic digestors. The liquid biofuel in greatest production is ethanol (ethyl alcohol), which is made by fermenting starch or sugar. During initial tests of a modified strain of corn, researchers discovered that the crop, which had been engineered to fight off a moth known to prey on corn, produced pollen that could possibly kill larvae of the monarch butterfly. Common fertilizers include nitrogen and phosphorus. Producers that focus on a single cash crop each year face an increased risk of pest development, water pollution, and catastrophic failure. Although this is an economically attractive measure, the greater economic profitability for the farmer can make serious environmental disadvantages. In theory, this sounds like a terrific way to keep up with biofuel crop demand. This is not the selective breeding they have followed for years; genetically modified crops are developed in the laboratory to tolerate herbicides better, fight off pests, and higher yields. "Modern Agriculture: Ecological impacts and the possibilities for truly sustainable farming." Union of Concerned Scientists. Phosphorus has been implicated as a trigger of localized algae blooms: The tiny aquatic plants feed off it and rapidly reproduce, often killing other plants and aquatic animals by reducing the amount of oxygen in water or by releasing toxic chemicals. "Oil Yields and Characteristics." Adjunct Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota. The molecular bonds in oils low in saturated fats, which stay liquid at lower temperatures, vary from those high in saturated fats, which often form solids in average temperature ranges. The widespread use of biofuels in daily operations requires different storage and handling equipment, engine modifications, and adapted fuel delivery systems. A 2005 study suggested that, using current farming and production technology, it takes anywhere from 27 to 118 percent more energy to produce a gallon of biodiesel than the energy it contains [source: Pimentel]. Biofuel Biomass is the only renewable energy source that can be converted into liquid biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. But genetically modified crops have accidentally created unwanted and sometimes threatening traits like what happened during primary tests of a modified strain of corn. A major concern people face is that the growing use of biofuels may also mean a growth in food prices. (2022 Guideline). Thanks for reading Scientific American. Performance & security by Cloudflare. One obvious consideration is the gel, or clouding, point: A fuel that turns solid well above water's freezing point would not be very useful in a cold location. Disadvantages of Biofuels One disadvantage of biofuels is that not all biofuels can be created equally. What is Distributed Generation? It's Not Completely Clean High Costs In Comparison To Other Alternatives Possible Deforestation Production Requires Space It Requires Water It Has Inefficiencies It's Under Development Dependence on Water and Oil Resources. Biofuel production utilizing food crops such as corn can drastically change the worlds access to cheap food. "The Ripple Effect: Biofuels, Food Security and the Environment." Another way in which biofuel production can compete with food production is through the use of food crops, such as corn, as feedstocks for biofuels rather than spending resources on processing corn for human consumption. Many fertilizers contain nitrogen and phosphorus. But the conversions impose additional time and money on the biofuel users. There is a variety of applications, including electricity generation, and heating. Create your free account or Sign in to continue. Biofuel Disadvantages: In the creation of first generation biofuels, huge amounts of land are needed. In the end, making a fuel from garbage remains a promising opportunityas long as the waste is already divvied up into its own component parts, as is happening in Edmonton and at the Three Rivers landfill near Pontotoc, Miss. Its lubricating properties are significantly better. By using biofuels as an alternative energy source, we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, which can help to reduce our impact on the environment and contribute to a more sustainable energy system that is more locally based. It also prevents crop rotation and in turn prevents the soil from recovery from nutritional depletion. Biofuels are generally of two categories: gaseous biofuel and liquid biofuel. Biofuels have emerged as an alternative to fossil fuels in recent years due to their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote the use of renewable energy. Some algal species contain up to 40 percent lipids by weight, which can be converted into biodiesel or synthetic petroleum. Central to the problem is corn's relatively high water requirement. and B.P. You can substitute it for corn ethanol if produced at a lower cost. Temperate zone plant biomass per hectare could be as high as 20 t. Switchgrass have reported yields up to 30 t ha 1. When they are used as fuel, they leave gummy residue in the engine. "Waste as a feedstock [for biofuels] has a number of advantages," says Enerkem's co-founder and chief technology officer Esteban Chornet, a former engineer at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. According to the report of RFA (Renewable Fuels Association) in February 2019, ethanol is the highest-octane and the least expensive motor fuel on earth. Future Price Growth 8. Biofuels are compatible with current engine designs and work very well in most conditions. This undergraduate laboratory experiment educates students on the various alternative fuels that are being developed for automotive applications and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Soil, groundwater and air pollution. It isn't as effective a fuel as traditional gasoline. Biogas reduces Soil and water pollution. List of the Disadvantages of Ethanol. While both of these additives promote rapid and hearty growth in many crops, they have a downside. Hundreds and even thousands of hectares of unbroken acres of one crop are an irresistible destination for plant pests; pest groups can explode uncontrollably in this tempting environment. Likewise, the fertilizer, water and land required to produce enough biofuel to reduce fossil fuel consumption significantly can create other problems, ranging from increased pollution to decreased access to food. The major disadvantage to using algae to produce biofuels is the cost, which in part is due to the fact that the practice of using algae to produce biofuels is relatively new and requires additional research and development to find less costly production methods. Land use for biofuels may not cause a severe shortage of food; however, it will put pressure on the current increase of crops. Moisture is more likely to be absorbed by biofuels than fossil diesel, which causes problems in cold weather. 7. Some of the disadvantages of biofuels apply mainly to low-diversity biofuel sourcescorn, soybeans, sugarcane, oil palmswhich are traditional agricultural crops. Exorbitant Production Costs 2. Your email address will not be published. Compatibility refers to the ability of a fuel to be used in existing infrastructure and equipment without modification or damage. This means large scale production to supply for a large population is still not possible. Advantages of incineration. As a result, looking for unsaturated oil as a biofuel source is reasonable. China's Xi Outshines Trump as the World's Future Energy Leader, Fact or Fiction? Plantation owners prepared their operations to meet the demand . These air pollutants can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems, as well as damage to crops, forests, and other ecosystems. Similarly, BlueFire Ethanol turns waste into ethanol by using sulfuric acid to release the cellulose in the trash and then adds enzymes and microbes to ferment it into fuel. The burning of biofuels generates fewer air pollutants than the burning of fossil fuels, which can improve air quality and public health. Aug. 11, 2006. Advantages And Disadvantages Of Ethanol - Ethanol is a volatile, colorless and flammable alcohol obtained from corn or cellulosic materials, and is used as an alternative fuel to gasoline and diesel. For example, emphasis on ethanol derived from corn is shifting grasslands and brushlands to corn monocultures, and emphasis on biodiesel is bringing down ancient tropical forests to make way for oil palm plantations. Perhaps the simplest drawback of biofuels is that it is not petroleum-based fuel so that they will work differently in engines developed for petroleum-based fuel. Traditional waste tire management strategies Advantages Disadvantages; Recycling and reclamation: Reduces global warming and helps preserve . The sun stores resources into these materials thanks to photosynthesis. Overall, the reliability of biofuels as an energy source will depend on the specific circumstances of their production and use. What are the economic drawbacks of using biofuels. The growth of all of these plants is better when fertilized. In the planning stage, it is important to carefully evaluate the potential impacts of different biofuel production methods and prefer practices that minimize negative environmental and economic impacts. They emit less carbon dioxide and other emissions when burned than standard diesel. Advantages and disadvantages of renewable energy. Disadvantages of Biofuels 1. In 2013 Enerkem plans to open a plant there, too, with the help of $130 million in taxpayer funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy. Easier availability of biomass, its low cost, and cheaper technologies involved mean producing bioenergy is cheaper when compared to most energy sources, especially fossil fuels. Less carbon emissions . Even if plant waste can be used as raw material, the demand for these products will still exist. Scientists sounded the alarm, and further tests by academic and industry researchers confirmed that the corn's pollen posed a threat to monarchs. Renewability Is an Advantage It takes a very long time for fossil fuels to be produced. Think about the oils in your kitchen: While the olive oil in the cupboard is easy to pour, the lard and vegetable shortening have a paste-like consistency. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. The production of biofuels can in some cases compete with food production in several ways. (Dec. 13, 2010), Special Offer on Antivirus Software From HowStuffWorks and TotalAV Security. These fossil fuel stores are practically finite. It emits less harmful carbon compared to standard diesel. (Jan. 14, 2011), McKenna, Phil. . Many common crops could economically produce biofuel in certain parts of the world. September 2007. The crops tend to be lesser varieties of the original, say of corn, for . Many biofuel crops are applied to produce biodiesel. After the incineration process is complete, the total mass of the remaining garbage can be reduced by up to 85 percent, while its volume may shrink by as much as 95 percent [5].. Monoculture refers to the production of one concentrated crop rather than the rotating of different crops through a farmers field over time. Additionally, using crops for biofuels can also lead to a decrease in the availability of food, as well as an increase in the cost of food. But factor in a number of other complicating aspects, and biofuel often carries a heavy price. Quick Navigation for Advantages and disadvantages of biofuels, [1] The clearing of land can also result in the sudden release of a large amount of carbon dioxide as the plant matter that it contains is burned or allowed to decay. The development of a biofuels industry has great potential to stimulate economic development in rural areas with less job possibilities by creating new markets for crops and other agricultural products. This is due to the fact that biofuels are derived from renewable resources, such as crops and waste materials, which is more expensive to grow and process than fossil fuels. "It is logistically available and it is low in value, if not negative in value." Being forced to import oil creates problems for their economy. An example of such practice could be plantation of diverse prairie grass mixtures. The problem is even worse for pure vegetable oil, used as fuel in so-called "greasecars." "The business of ethanol is a very substantial market opportunity," Chornet says. ", David Biello is a contributing editor at Scientific American. It took millions of years for organic materials to transform into fossil fuels stores we currently mine for our energy needs. Industrial Pollution 6. Because biofuels can be produced from renewable resources, they bring less pollution to the planet. Biofuels are less suitable for application in low temperatures. The development of a biofuels industry can have both positive and negative economic impacts, depending on the specific circumstances. This may sound contradictory to the advantages of biofuels mentioned earlier in this article. Pure ethanol and biodiesel are nontoxic and biodegradable, and if spilled, they break down into harmless substances. April 2009. The production, distribution, and use of biofuels can create jobs in a variety of sectors that will support the production and use of this sustainable alternative. Not Rotating the Crop 3. But biofuels aren't completely cost-free. In small countries, or in municipalities where landfills are full and . The use of biofuels can therefore help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and contribute to a more sustainable energy system. Required fields are marked *. The following figure shows the biodiesel cycle schematically. It contributes to deforestation 4. 2. The production of biofuels can compete with food production for land and resources, which can lead to higher food prices. DISADVANTAGES OF BIOETHANOL 1. (Jan. 14, 2011), Altieri, Miguel A. Greentumble is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This allows the engine to run for longer periods with less maintenance and reduces overall pollution check costs. For example, the density of corn-based ethanol is higher than gasoline; fuel injectors must be larger in an ethanol-only engine to suit the fuel flow of a comparable gasoline engine. (Nov. 19, 2010), Lau, Michael H. et al. Lower carbon emissions make them a safer alternative to preserve atmospheric quality and lower air pollution. Converting degraded agricultural land that is out of production to such high-diversity biofuel sources could increase wildlife area, reduce erosion, cleanse waterborne pollutants, store carbon dioxide from the air as carbon compounds in the soil, and ultimately restore fertility to degraded lands. 6 May 2015. A number of factors play into any fuel's cost, both in economic and environmental terms, and biofuel doesn't always come out as the most sustainable option. One distinctive promise of biofuels is that, in combination with an emerging technology called carbon capture and storage, the process of producing and using biofuels may be capable of perpetually removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Biofuel typically involves contemporary carbon fixation, such as happens in plants or microalgae during photosynthesis. The symbols of agricultural success in many parts of the world are endless fields of corn, soybeans or wheat, with identical crops stretching as far as the eye can see. 2015-2023 Greentumble. On the other hand, because many biofuel feedstocks require land, water, and other resources, research suggests that biofuel production may give rise to several undesirable effects. Disadvantages of Biofuels Production of biofuels can be quite inefficient Large amounts of raw materials have to be used Significant greenhouse gas emissions in the production chain Use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides High initial investments required Increase in global food prices Global hunger and starvation High water demand Biodiesel, as the most common biofuel in Europe, is generated from oils or fats using transesterification. As an alternative source of energy, they also reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, minimizing or emitting negative effects that come with the use of this polluting and limited source that has been powering our economies since the industrial revolution but has also brought about increased pollution levels and emissions of greenhouse gases. There are a few potential negative effects of biofuels on the environment and economy that need to be considered when forming an opinion about their use in the future. University of Minnesota. Liquid biofuels are of particular interest because of the vast infrastructure already in place to use them, especially for transportation. Loss of natural habitat can change the hydrology, increase erosion, and generally reduce biodiversity of wildlife areas. Because biomass technically can be used directly as a fuel, sometimes the terms biomass and biofuel are used interchangeably. The Pros of Biofuels Given that the conversion rate is lower than with first-generation biofuels, cellulosic ethanol is dominantly used as a gasoline additive. These differences in state at a given temperature come from the oils' molecular makeup. Bloomberg Businessweek. Biodiesel is a non-toxic fuel producing lower emissions as compared to fossil fuels when burnt. "Measuring Corn Ethanol's Thirst for Water." Nevertheless, in 2012 Edmonton will host a chemical plant owned by Enerkem that will turn garbage into 36 million liters of ethanol and methanol per year. Environment. Its use also leads to a significant reduction of particulate matter emissions, the term used to explain solid particles and liquid droplets in the air. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Fueling homes, businesses, and vehicles with biofuels are less expensive compared to fossil fuels. While both of these additives cause rapid and pleasing growth in many crops, they have drawbacks. Biofuels require agricultural land which is already limited. Converting from one fuel to the other, in some cases, needs a set of new injectors, gaskets, and fuel lines. Hydrogenating, or treating the oil with hydrogen, can mitigate this problem, but increased processing means increased cost [source: Journey to Forever]. Disadvantage of Biofuels Energy output Indirect Carbon Emissions Much Higher Initial Cost Food Prices May Strain Water Resources Destruction of Cultivable Land Conclusion on Biofuel Pros and Cons Related Resources Biofuel Pros and Cons Analysis: How Does It Work? 1. Technical Challenges Perhaps the simplest drawback of biofuels is that it is not petroleum-based fuel so that they will work differently in engines developed for petroleum-based fuel. This website is using a security service to protect itself from online attacks. As a breeding ground for bacteria and other contaminants, landfills can allow pollution to contaminate the land, sea and air. (Nov. 16, 2010), Tsuneishi, Scott. The production and use of biofuels generates significantly less greenhouse gas emissions than the production and use of highly polluting fossil fuels. Compared with making ethanol from crops, the environmental benefits of making it from waste are clear: It diminishes the demand for landfills and cuts greenhouse gas emissions. Just consider: biodiesel is a biodegradable fuel that releases less emissions when burned. Compared to petroleum-based gasoline, ethanol is a less effective fuel. The advantages and disadvantages of HYV seeds are shown in the table below: Biofuels Biofuels are any kind of fuel manufactured from living things or from waste. A study in 2005 showed that using available farming and production technologies, from 27 to 118 percent more energy is needed to produce a gallon of biodiesel than the energy existing in it. Had it been the season's popular strain of corn, there could have been an ecological disaster as monarchs migrated through the corn-heavy American Midwest [source: Mellon and Rissler]. The simple economic system of supply and demand of biofuels increases the demand for corn, for example, and it becomes more expensive. The greenhouse gases bring about global warming by trapping sunlight. Many unsaturated oils have undesirable burn characteristics: They'll leave gummy residue in an engine when used as fuel. Captured carbon dioxide could be sequestered (stored) in long-term repositories such as geologic formations beneath the land, in sediments of the deep ocean, or conceivably as solids such as carbonates. document.getElementById( "ak_js_1" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() ); Linquipis a Professional Network for Equipment manufacturers, industrial customers, and service providers, Copyright 2022 Linquip Company. That has yet to be an energy source that comes without some drawback. Biofuel is produced from renewable resources and relatively less-flammable than fossil diesel. A 2009 study suggests that, in the rush to produce enough corn-based ethanol to meet federal alternative energy requirements, biofuel demand is already putting stress on fresh water supplies in the Great Plains and central Southwest [source: McKenna]. If you use ethanol for your vehicles, you reduce up to 86% of greenhouse gas emissions more than fossil fuel. Perhaps the most straightforward of biofuel's drawbacks is the most obvious: It isn't petroleum-based fuel, so it will operate differently in engines designed for petroleum-based fuel. Air quality sensing of particulate matter shows that levels of this damaging pollutant are high around such sites. ), which scientists call biomass. (Nov. 15, 2010), Mellon, Margaret and Jane Rissler. To begin a detailed discussion of this subject, the following are some of the recognised benefits and drawbacks of biofuels. About 3.5 million tons of garbage is discarded in landfills every day. Let us know if you liked this article. Deforestation. Despite the development of various technologies for converting waste tires into biofuels, there is a need for more cost-effective and efficient methods that can be scaled up for commercial production. "E85 Vs Conventional Gasoline - Tech Knowledge." Similarly, nutrients that are returned to the soil through crop rotation and allow fields to lay fallow disappear under extreme monocultural farming. Typically, garbage collection has certain disadvantages: Garbage collection consumes computing resources in deciding what memory is to be freed, reconstructing facts that may have been known to the programmer. Whereas oil is a finite resource and comes from unique materials, biofuels can be produced from a broad variety of ingredients, including crop waste, manure, and other by-products. 2009. All rights reserved. For example, Range Fuels in Georgia similarly attempted to gasify waste from the pulp and paper industry and transform it into ethanol directly but foundered in perfecting its catalysts. (Nov. 15, 2010), Golden Fuel Systems. True, a plant-based fuel comes from a renewable source, while fossil fuels will eventually run out. When fossil fuels burn, they produce large amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide. And alcohol fuels (including ethanol) can corrode or damage some of the metal and rubber fittings used in gasoline-powered engines. 2007. Bioenergy can reduce the waste problem. While technology may eventually narrow those ratios, the input-output energy ratio of modern biofuel production is a major drawback to its widespread use. This removes the need for application of chemicals and the risk of runoff and water contamination is simply lower. Biomass production uses a lot of water 5. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) determines bioenergy as a renewable energy form. Study with Quizlet and memorize flashcards containing terms like When considering large scale hydropower the disadvantage causing the LEAST environmental impact would be Decreased of flow of silt and sand to natural downstream deposits Disruption of the life cycle of anadromous and endemic fish Flooding of upstream habitat Change of job sources in the area, When a mineral resource is too deep .