Biofuel Technology

Currently biofuel falls into two general technology cateregories. These are first and second generation biofuels. First generation biofuel’s are produced from food or energy crops such as sugarcane, corn, maize and sorghum and compete directly with food production. Second generation biofuel on the otherhand is primarily produced from biomass that is not used for food production. For example, the biomass used  in second generation bio-ethanol production comes from agricultural residues, hardwoods, softwoods and grasses. These are what are known as lignocellulosic materials which is the scientific  name refering to the structure of these sources.

These types of materials are the way forward for bio-ethanol production as they do not compete with food and energy crops. Agricultural residues specifically are interesting to me as they are the residues left over after processing. An example of this is bagasse which is the residue from sucar cane processing which is typically burnt to supply energy to a sugar cane plant and which results in large releases of CO2. Producing bio-ethanol from bagasse is therefore an interesting and important alternative which needs to be looked at.

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