What are Biofuels

Today a friend of mine asked me what biofuel’s are. So for those of you who haven’t a clue I’m hoping this helps.

So what are biofuels? Biofuels are fuels that are produced from biomass or in simpler terms “plant” matter. In short, they are fuels that can be used as substitutes for petrol, diesel and the like. Currently the drive for biofuel’s is being pushed by an unstable oil price and global warming which has resulted in many countries desiring to move away from their dependance on fossil fuel’s.

Brazil is one of the most notable, having started somewhere in the early 1970’s with the production of bio-ethanol, a biofuel produced from sugar cane. As an aside, ethanol and bio-ethanol is basically the same thing. Bio-ethanol is just the name they use when its meant as fuel. Anyway today in Brazil it is mandatory for cars to have a petrol blend consisting of at least 25% ethanol. Interestingly enough I was asking a new colleague of mine who has recently arrived from Brazil to join our research team and he was surprised to learn that it is not standard for Bio-ethanol to be sold at a petrol station.

Petrol and ethanol gas station in Brazil

Bio-ethanol filling station in brazil

Bio-ethanol filling station in brazil

4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Lydia McIntosh said,

    Hi Paul,

    I’ve never blogged before so I hope this is what you are meant to do. I’m so proud of you to be working in this very topical and current field of biofuels. I recommend you get hold of the May edition of “Popular Mechanics” which ran an article on a chap who is making fuel from used cooking oil. It is fascinating.

    Have a great day

    • 2

      lignofuel said,


      I will have a look at that “Popular Mechanics” edition. It sounds quite interesting.

      Thanks for the comment, that’s what a blog is all about.

      Hope you have a great day.


  2. 3

    Hadi said,

    your blog name is lignofuel bur your disscussions are about biofuel in general. I am looking about an article about lignofuel. would you please help me.

    • 4

      mcintoshsites said,

      Hi Hadi,

      My name is Paul McIntosh. I recently started the blog on lignofuels but a lot of my friends don’t know much about biofuels from which the research into lignofuels stems so I thought I would start out with some articles on biofuels in general to give these friends some back ground. What particularily are you interested in with regards to lignocellulosic fuel? I’m currently doing research into producing bio-ethanol from Sorghum bagasse and triticale straw. Both of these feedstocks are lignocellulosic materials. I have been focussed recently on pretreatment of these feedstocks with dilute acid hydrolysis as well as steam explosion. These two pretreatments (dilute acid hydrolyis and steam explosion) break down the lignocellulosic structure by disrupting the lignin bonds and hydrolysing the hemicellulose sugars. This makes the cellulose accesible to enzymes which then hydrolyse the cellulosic sugars. The momomeric sugars from pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis can then be converted to ethanol through fermentation. There are a number of other pathways that can be used to convert lignocellulosic materials to fuels but the ones mentioned are the ones I have hands on experience with. Is there anything that you are particularily interested in with regards to lignofuels? eg. lignocellulosic feedstocks, lignocellulosic fuels, processes for productions of lignofuels or economics of lignofuel production or somehthing else?


Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: