Biofuel. Plants will help out when the oil runs out


What is biofuel and its types

Biofuels exist in three forms: liquid, solid and gaseous. Solid is wood, sawdust, dried manure. Liquid is bioalcohols (ethyl, methyl and butyl, etc.) and biodiesel. The gaseous fuel is hydrogen and methane produced by the fermentation of plants and manure. Many plants can be processed into fuel, such as rapeseed, soybeans, canola, jatropha, etc. Various vegetable oils are also suitable for these purposes: coconut, palm, castor. All of them contain a sufficient amount of fat, which allows you to make fuel out of them. More recently, scientists have discovered algae growing in lakes that can be used to make biodiesel. The US Department of Energy estimates that a ten by forty meter lake planted with algae could produce up to 3570 barrels of bio-oil. According to experts, 10% of the US land given over to such lakes is able to provide all American cars with fuel for a year. The developed technology was ready for use in California, Hawaii and New Mexico as early as 2000, but due to low oil prices, it remained in the form of a project. 

Biofuel stories

If you look into the past of Russia, then you can suddenly find out that even in the USSR, vegetable biofuels were already used. For example, in the 30s, aircraft fuel was supplemented with biofuel (bioethanol). The first Soviet R-1 rocket ran on a mixture of oxygen and an aqueous solution of ethyl alcohol. During the Great Patriotic War, Polutorka trucks were refueled not with gasoline, which was in short supply, but with biogas produced by mobile gas generators. In Europe, on an industrial scale, biofuels began to be produced in 1992. Eighteen years later, there were already about two hundred industries producing 16 million tons of biodiesel, by 2010 they were already producing 19 billion liters. Russia cannot yet boast of European biodiesel production volumes, but in our country there are biofuel programs in Altai and Lipetsk. In 2007, Russian biodiesel based on rapeseed was tested on diesel locomotives of the Voronezh-Kursk South-Eastern Railway, following the results of the tests, the leaders of Russian Railways expressed their desire to use it on an industrial scale.

In the modern world, more than a dozen large countries are already developing technologies for the production of biofuels. In Sweden, a train running on biogas runs regularly from the city of Jönköping to Västervik, it has become a landmark, the only regret is that the gas for it is made from the waste of a local slaughterhouse. What’s more, in Jönköping, most of the buses and garbage trucks run on biofuel.

In Brazil, large-scale production of bioethanol from sugar cane is being developed. As a result, almost a third of the transport in this country runs on alternative fuels. And in India, biofuels are being used in remote areas to power generators that provide electricity to small communities. In China, biofuel for internal combustion engines is made from rice straw, and in Indonesia and Malaysia it is made from coconuts and palm trees, for which these plants are specially planted over vast areas. In Spain, the latest trend in biofuel production is being developed: marine farms that grow fast-growing algae that are processed into fuel. And in the USA, oily fuel for aircraft was developed at the University of North Dakota. They are doing the same in South Africa, they launched the Waste to Wing project, within which they will make fuel for aircraft from plant waste, they are supported by WWF, Fetola, SkyNRG. 

Pros of biofuels

· Rapid recovery of raw materials for production. If it takes hundreds of years to form oil, then it takes several years for plants to grow.

· Environmental Safety. Biofuel is processed by nature almost completely; in about a month, microorganisms living in water and soil are able to disassemble it into safe elements.

· Reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Biofuel vehicles emit significantly less CO2. Actually, they throw out exactly as much as the plant absorbed it in the process of growth.

Sufficient security. Biofuels need to be above 100°C to ignite, making them safe.

Cons of biofuels

· The fragility of biofuels. Bioethanols and biodiesel can be stored for no more than three months due to gradual decomposition.

Sensitivity to low temperatures. In winter, it is necessary to heat liquid biofuel, otherwise it will not work.

· Alienation of fertile lands. The need to give away good land for the cultivation of raw materials for biofuels, thereby reducing agricultural land. 

Why there is no biofuel in Russia

Russia is a large country with huge reserves of oil, gas, coal and extensive forests, so no one is going to develop such technologies on a large scale yet. Other countries, such as Sweden, which do not have such reserves of natural resources, are trying to reuse organic waste, making fuel out of them. But there are bright minds in our country who are launching pilot projects for the production of biofuels from plants, and when the need arises, they will be massively introduced. 


Humanity has ideas and working prototypes of fuel and energy technologies that will allow us to live and develop without depleting underground resources and without polluting nature. But in order for this to become a reality, the general desire of people is necessary, it is necessary to abandon the usual consumerist view of planet Earth and begin to coexist harmoniously with the outside world. 

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