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Home » Feedstocks, Field Crops, Opinions

Seven Cool Biofuel Crops That We Use for Fuel Production

Submitted by on April 10, 2017 – 11:45 amNo Comment

by Christopher McFadden (Interesting Engineering)  Biofuels and biofuel crops have been vaunted by politicians, journalists and scientists for years. A method of producing fuel from plants or other sources could potentially allow us to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels.

Biofuels generally fall into two categories, bioalcohol and biodiesel. The former, such as ethanol, is created by engineers from yeast and bacteria to break down starch from corn and other plants. Biodiesel, on the other hand, is created in refineries that use existing oil in crops such as soybeans.

Biofuel crops: Corn

Corn is the king in the world of ethanol-based biofuels. Sugar-rich corn is turned into ethanol in a similar fashion to beer brewing.

Biofuel crops: Rapeseed/Canola

Rapeseed oil has been used to cook food and in lamps for centuries. Today, it’s an important biodiesel source.

Biofuel crops: Sugarcane

Brazil has been working tirelessly to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels over the years. This South American country has been growing energy crops since the 1970’s as a direct consequence of the Middle East Oil Embargo.

Biofuel crops: Palm oil

Palm oil is extracted from the fruit of palm trees and it is one of the more energy-efficient biodiesel fuels on the market.

Biofuel crops: Jatropha

This ugly, poisonous weed is a big player in the biofuel market. The bushes grow quickly, do not require a large amount of water and their seeds have around 40% oil content. India is currently the world’s largest Jatropha producer and their biodiesel industry is centered on this crop.

Biofuel crops: Soybeans

Not just used for tofu or tacos, crayons and shampoos soybean can be used as a fuel source. Most biodiesel in the USA is predicated on soybeans.

Biofuel crops: Switchgrass

This plant has the greatest potential to cure our addiction to the use of fossil fuels. Unlike corn, switchgrass has a form of cellulose that uses less energy to convert to ethanol than from processing fossil fuels. Switchgrass’s cellulose ethanol contains more energy than corn ethanol. Although there are not currently large plantations of this crop scientists are currently working on methods to exploit this plant in the future.  READ MORE


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