History: Old is Gold.
Bio fuel is not some recent invention, invented to deal with the looming threat of extinction of fossil fuels. It’s only that we have realised its importance standing at the verge of great crisis. Wood, a solid bio fuel has been used since ancient times. Initially, Diesel engine designed by Rudolf diesel used peanut oil as fuel. A German named Nikolaus August Otto, was among the first few inventors who realised the potential of ethanol. Ethanol, a liquid bio fuel was used to fuel Henry Ford’s Model Ts from 1903 to 1926. During World War II, use of bio fuel was encouraged as an alternative for imported fuel. This was the period when Germany, Britain experiencing shortage of fuel, conceptualised the use of grain alcohol mixed with gasoline. But following the discovery of fossil fuels, they outshone the less efficient and more expensive Bio fuel. Huge deposits of crude oil were enough alluring to forget the cleaner Bio fuel.
Although, diesel and gasoline were also derived from biomass, but they cannot be considered as renewable because they resulted from decomposed plants and animals buried in ground for millions of years. In contrast, bio fuel used today is obtained from now growing plants.
Contemporary rise in oil prices, budding concerns about carbon dioxide emissions, scarcity of non renewable resources are some good reasons to turn to the Old, that is indeed Gold.
The Energy Behind!!
This is yet another marvel of the supreme energy source of the planet, i.e. The Sun. With the help of ‘Photosynthesis’ sunlight converts water and atmospheric carbon dioxide to complex carbohydrates (sugar). The solar energy gets stored in the chemical bonds of these complex sugar molecules. The sugar molecules can be simple, complex (Starch), highly complex polymers (Cellulose) depending on the variety of plant.
Cellulose, Hemi-cellulose and lignin form the chemical composition of Biomass. Thus, when we efficiently burn any form of biomass, the stored solar energy in chemical bond is released, with carbon dioxide as a by product. This makes the process cyclic, as carbon dioxide is available to act as input again.
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