Biofuels

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Biofuels are derived from biological sources such as plants and algae.

With dwindling fossil fuel supplies, many types of biofuels such as ethanol and vegetable oils are now being used for tranport, industrial and domestic purposes.

"Good biofuels" are produced from waste organic matter that is not produced from environmentally destructive activities.

For example, using crop waste that would otherwise be burnt (such as residual waste after sugar can harvesting) can produce useful quantities of fuel such as ethanol.

"Bad biofuels" are:

  • those produced using fossil fuel inputs (e.g. for fertiliser, harvesting, manufacturing and distribution) that exceeds the energy value of the fuel, as is the case for ethanol produced from corn crops in the United States
  • palm oil - where large tracts of rainforest are cleared to create new plantations
  • woodchips from native forest logging - huge carbon emissions result from the clearing of the native forests, and the burning of woodchips

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