What’s Green Fuel?

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Green fuel, or biofuel, is a fuel made from plant and animal materials that some believe is more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels. It can be created from crops that produce sugar or oil, or from non-food sources and waste. While it is not entirely pollution-free, it is seen as a possible alternative to fossil fuels as they deplete. Green algae is a promising source of biofuel, and governments are investing in finding sustainable fuel sources.

Green fuel, also known as biofuel, is a type of fuel distilled from plant and animal materials, believed by some to be more environmentally friendly than the widely used fossil fuels that power most of the world. In a desperate search for alternative energy sources, green fuel has evolved as a possible fueling option as the world depletes its fossil fuel resources. Detractors suggest that the term “green fuel” is a misnomer, as the transformation of crops into biofuel actually creates a significant amount of pollution that can be as harmful to the environment as current practices.

In creating basic forms of biofuel, crops are divided into two types: sugar production and oil production. Crops that produce sugar and starch, such as sugar cane or corn, undergo a fermentation process to create ethanol. Oil-producing plants, such as those used in vegetable oils, can be used in much the same way as fossil sources of petroleum; they create diesel that can be burned by cars or further processed to become biodiesel.

Recent technological breakthroughs have created the fields of advanced biofuels, which focus on non-food sources and renovating waste as energy. By converting landfill material, as well as wood and inedible plant parts, into green fuel, we not only reduce the use of fossil fuels, but also effectively recycle huge amounts of waste. These biofuels help quell the debate that growing crops for fuel will result in fewer food crops being available.

A new form of fuel can literally be called green, as it is derived from green algae. Algae, often seen growing on bodies of water, is a small plant with a rapid growth rate. Its usefulness as a fuel comes from the fact that it has an extremely high oil content that can be processed like other oil crops. Many countries are now doing extensive research on seaweed, which is easy to grow and grows very quickly. According to some estimates by start-up kelp oil companies, one acre of kelp can produce 200 times more oil than one acre of corn.

Some detractors warn against the assumption that green fuel is free from pollution-causing attributes. The transformation of sugar and starch plants into ethanol has come under heavy criticism in recent years; not only do these plants take up room for food to grow, the fermentation process releases a significant amount of pollution into the air. In addition, green fuel does not necessarily burn cleanly and can emit formaldehyde, ozone and other carcinogens when used.

It is not yet clear whether currently available green fuel is the wave of the future or just an intermediate step in the journey away from the use of fossil fuels. Governments around the world are devoting enormous resources to finding clean and sustainable fuels to replace the polluting and rapidly disappearing oil reserves used today. Green fuel may not be a perfect solution to the problems of oil needs and global protection, but it remains an important innovation that could pave the way for a better future.

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