Merits of Ethanol Biofuel Production Studied

I have long been a biofuel skeptic largely on the basis of concerns regarding whether their production used more energy than it produced. There are also valid concerns regarding whether food production (and prices) would be adversely impacted upon by large scale energy crops. And EcoInternet took the lead in highlighting biofuel's potential impact upon forests and other terrestrial ecosystems as pressures increase for cropland and tree plantations to replace natural vegetation. This is particularly true in rainforests as Asian oil palm and to a lesser degree South American soybeans production cause tropical rainforest destruction.
New findings in the journal Science assuage the first concern, finding that ethanol production is more energy-efficient than some experts had realized. This article indicates researchers are aware of concerns regarding energy crops hurting food prices – stating advanced biofuels must be developed from dedicated energy crops. It is troubling though that the future of biofuels is said to be use of tree cellulose to produce fuel. The last thing the world's dwindling forests need is more monocropped tree plantations or logging pressures to produce biofuel. A wood based biofuel industry would be disaster for forests.

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4 Responses

  1. Uncle Pongo says:

    What about hemp?
    No fertilizer, no GM dangers, grows without irrigation or weed control in the main.
    Grow it every year, same spot.
    Never happen.

  2. Matt says:

    Sure, I will comment.
    I have an idea. Turn Lake Mead, USA, into a biofuel algae factory, 30,000 square miles, should provide most of our fuel needs indefinitely, and as near as I can tell the operating costs (not inputs) would be just a few humndred million a year.
    The Lake is man made, built on a man made town in a man made forest, which overlaid a forest disturbed by man and maybe created by man. So, where is the natural objection?

  3. Vic Verghese says:

    I think the ecological concerns with re to large scale natural vegetation replacement is quite valid, because if one were to consider replacing all or most of petrofuels with biofuel, with the existing feedstock – corn, sugarcane, sunflower etc – it will be possibly only if very large tracts of land are used for their cultivation. Such is the magnitude of our petro-products consumption
    However, God might be merciful after all…there are studies on producing biodiesel from organisms like algae whose yields are hundreds of times higher than for traditional crops, so who knows!
    A useful site in this re could be The Biodiesel Encyclopedia
    Vic, BPO

  4. goodness says:

    i want to know more about biofuel

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