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  1. 1. Meisner 1Jake MeisnerMrs. CorbettAP Literature18 November 2011 Biofuels “The use of biofuelsin the transportation industry is not new. In 1900, German inventorRudolf Diesel exhibited his new engine at the World Exhibition in Paris, France. He ran theengine on peanut oil. In 1912 Diesel suggested that vegetable oils would be the fuel of the futurefor his diesel engine….In 1925, Henry Ford a leader in the U.S. automobile industry, promotedcorn-based ethanol as the fuel of the future for the automotive industry”(Environmental Science:In Context). If these great pioneers of the automotive industry saw the potential of biofuels, whydoes society not utilize them? It is clear that many biofuels have the ability to supply thenecessary power to motor vehicles, and yet the world relies on gasoline like it is the only sourceof power. The current energy crisis is plaguing the world because of its complete and utterdependence on oil and other petroleum products. Society clearly needs to have a viable long-term replacement for petroleum before the world‟s supply finally depletes. One such optionexists in biofuels due to their ease of synthesis and their economic, environmental, and socialbenefits. Verily, biofuels are an extremely viable option for the long term energy security of theworld because of their wide range of applications and derivations, and most biofuels are easilysynthesized. Biofuels utilize once living matter by converting the mass into a usable energysource. These renewable sources of energy can be applied in many different types of fuel, themost successful options being ethanol and biodiesel. For these two, the chimerical processestransfer the fatty acids within the natural oils of the feedstuff into triglycerides that can be
  2. 2. Meisner 2combusted and used for fuel (Solomon).These processes are easily accomplished and can bedone with relatively small amounts of chemicals. This ease provides an extremely viable optionof renewable energy consumption for all nations in that even the most undeveloped nationspossess enough technology to accomplish the synthesis of at least one biofuels. As a matter offact, Applied Energy claims, “Through „liquid-liquid‟ extraction, converting used cooking oilscan essentially become a cottage industry for useable biodiesel” (Berrios et al.). Waste products,such as used cooking oils, are very valuable feedstuffs in the synthesis process of biofuels.Berrios highlights the fact that all societies have the ability to produce usable biofuels on at leastsome scale. There have been several successful implementations of biofuels in nations such asBrazil. “Brazil focused on turning sugarcane into ethanol….By 2007, most automotive fuel soldin Brazilcontained 70% gasoline and 30% ethanol, about 4 million cars were burning pureethanol, and most new vehicles contained “flexible-fuel” engines that could burn pure gasoline,pure ethanol, or any blend” (Climate Change: In Context). Brazil utilized its resources andconverted excess sugarcane into usable fuel for its citizens. This provides a blueprint for othernations to use in that countries can often use their staple cash crops to produce fuel. In order toaccomplish the goal of energy independence, it is crucial for all of society to realize that biofuelsare not necessarily complicated and unobtainable energy solutions. Equally important to the success of biofuels are the economic benefits that come withtheir utilization. Dependence on oil has contributed in many nations, particularly the UnitedStates, to the economic crisis that the world is dealing with presently.“Every day, modern nationsconsume enormous amounts of energy to fuel their mighty economies. The vast majority of thisenergy comes from nonrenewable fossil fuels…Oil is depended on the most, accounting for 40percent of all energy needs and nearly 90 percent of transportation fuel” (“The Energy
  3. 3. Meisner 3Crisis”).Universally, the use of petroleum products is hampering economies. Without asustainable alternative, OPEC, being the goliath cartel that it is, can impose its will on theworld.CBC Bioenergy states, “The utilization of sustainable energy helps stimulate local andnational agricultural economies because they supply a sense of job security for farmers whentheir primary crops are not in season” (Bryan, King, and Wang).This utilization of off-seasonsallow for farmers to produce feedstuffs such as corn, rapeseed, the jatropha plant, algae, etc.Many of these products are low-cost and low-maintenance crops that produce large amounts ofnatural oil needed for the formation of the biofuels. The economic effects of this idea wouldinclude a larger income for farmers and less imports on petroleum products based products(particularly oil). Another economic effect that is often overlooked in this process is thedevelopment and/or expansion of the refining systems within nations. This is an important aspectof the system because although most biofuels can be produced in a domestic setting, the large-scale production of these fuels can be expedited by using laboratories to extrude the natural oilsand to complete the finished product, and this industry supplies thousands of jobs whichcontributes to the overall health of every nation‟s economy. Some argue that the production ofbiofuels actually hampers the economy, and they base this argument on the assumption that theirproduction raises the cost of food. Agronomy for Sustainable Development (EDP Sciences)pointsto a study in which, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calculated that biofuel production contributed only 5% of the 45% increase in global food costs that occurred between April 2007 and April 2008. A Texas A&M University study concluded that energy prices were the primary cause of food price increases,noting that between January 2006 and January 2008, the prices of fuel and fertilizer, both major inputs to agricultural production, increased by 37% and 45%, respectively (Bessou et al.).This shows that biofuels are, in fact, not an economic depressant. Moreover, because of the
  4. 4. Meisner 4effects on the agricultural and refinery industries, biofuels actually increase economic potentialby supplying jobs and by decreasing dependence on foreign oil. In comparison, the environmental benefits of employing biofuels are immense. Oil usagehas caused considerable increases in the world‟s carbon footprint, and these increases aredeemed to be a factor in some of the world‟s leading environmental problems such as globalwarming. Biodiesel, as an alternative fuel, is one of the premier sources in terms of clean energy.To begin with, “Biodiesel became the only alternative fuel to have successfully completed theEPAs Tier I and Tier II Health Effects testing …The Tier I testing conclusively demonstratedbiodiesels significant reductions in most currently regulated emissions as well as mostunregulated emissions—especially those associated with cancer and lung disease” (Charles).Notonly does this biofuel pass the EPA tests, but it also surpasses petroleum-based fuels in toxicityand in carcinogen content. Without these harmful chemicals in the air, the world becomes amuch safer place and the threat of terrible diseases, like cancer, could develop into a nominalconcern. There is yet another type of environmental improvement in the combustion of the fuelitself. Demirbas declares, “Biofuels, except biohydrogen, are oxygenated compounds.Oxygenated structure would increase the efficiency of converting the potential combustionenergy to power….Finally, biofuels burn more completely, thus increasing combustionefficiency” (“Combustion Efficiency”).Not only are the fumes of the biofuels less toxic, but theamount of them, due to the relative combustions, is also better for the environment. Moreover,the lack of fumes produced by the biofuels decreases air pollution as a whole, and if people wereto accept these fuels as legitimate replacements on a large scale, then the air in big, over-pollutedcities such as Tokyo, New York, Beijing, etc. becomes much safer to breathe. Clearly biofuels
  5. 5. Meisner 5serve as a much cleaner source of energy than do fossil fuels such as gasoline and coal, andshould society choose to accept these sources, the world would be much less polluted. Despite the lack of attention that biofuels receive, their social benefits also serve as anattractive force to their gathering. One such benefit lies in the use of ethanol. “Sugarcane ethanol,while also supplying jobs to farmers…also encourages further job creation to those not in theagricultural field” (Kline et al.). Scientists, engineers, etc. in all nations benefit from the use ofbiofuels because men and women of high intelligence are needed to supply infrastructure, designrefineries, etc. Also, unskilled laborers receive jobs because they would be needed to harvest thefeedstuffs for the production of biofuels.Perhaps just as important is the supply of energy to ruralareas.Conservation Biology highlights, “More than two billion people in the world do not haveaccess to affordable energy services, and this seriously affects their chances of benefiting fromeconomic development and improved living standards….Women, older people and childrensuffer disproportionately because of their relative dependence on traditional fuels and theirexposure to smoke from cooking, the main cause of respiratory diseases” (Groom, Gray, andTownsend).The varying effects of fossil fuels on human life clearly highlight serious issues intheir use. Biofuels, on the other hand, show possibilities clean-burning fuels that do not cause thedespair that fossil fuels have been known to cause. Clearly, the social benefits of biofuels poseenough reason to utilize the clean energy rather than suffer the consequences of burninggasoline, coal, and other harmful fuels. By and large, biofuels make a compelling argument for their superiority to theircounterparts, the fossil fuels. Although some claim that biofuels are only pushes for “greenenergy” and that they are not long-term solutions to the world‟s oil addiction, but this is not thecase. Biofuels, especially ethanol and biodiesel, are in use today and are allowing many nations
  6. 6. Meisner 6to loosen the grip that OPEC has strung upon the world. Overall, these alternative fuel sourcescan be the staple of future fuel sources should society accept them for the power houses theytruly are.
  7. 7. Meisner 7 Works CitedBerrios, M, et al. “Purification of Biodiesel from Used Cooking Oils.” Applied Energy 88.11 (2011): 3625-3631. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Nov. 2011. < 8918ba848d56%40sessionmgr112&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a 9h&AN=62273965>.Bessou, Cécile, et al. “Economics of Biosecurity across Levels of Decision-Making: A Review.” Agronomy for Sustainable Development (EDP Sciences) 31.1 (2011): 120-128. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Nov. 2011. < pdfviewer?sid=17c24b94-b582-4c03-b023- 6d834f780fdb%40sessionmgr114&vid=4&hid=122>.Bryan, Brett A, Darran King, and Enli Wang. “Biofuels Agriculture.” GCB Bioenergy 2.6 (2010): 330-345. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Nov. 2011. < 8918ba848d56%40sessionmgr112&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a 9h&AN=66589643>.Charles, Hatcher L. “Biodiesel as a Renewable Energy Source: A New Direction?” Spectrum: Journal of State Government 77.3 (2004): 13-16. Academic Search Complete. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. < 4e49-ad78-00592b2f0c69%40sessionmgr13&vid=7&hid=19>.
  8. 8. Meisner 8Demirbas, A. “Combustion Efficiency Impacts of Biofuels.” Energy Sources Part A: Recovery, Utilization & Environmental Effects 31.7 (2009): 602-609. Academic Search Complete. Web. 25 Oct. 2011. < detail?vid=4&hid=14&sid=40aeee2d-106f-48e6-8592- 106f752d2466%40sessionmgr10&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9 h&AN=36678130>.Groom, Martha J, Elizabeth M Gray, and Patricia A Townsend. “Biofuels and Biodiversity: Principles for Creating Better Policies for Biofuel Production.” Conservation Biology 22.3 (2008): 602-609. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Nov. 2011. < b023- 6d834f780fdb%40sessionmgr114&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a 9h&AN=32549787>.Kline, Keith, et al. “In Defense of Biofuels, Done Right.” Issues in Science & Technology 25.3 (2009): 75-84. Academic Search Complete. Web. 24 Oct. 2011. < 108b67451ff9%40sessionmgr12&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9 h&AN=37791557>.
  9. 9. Meisner 9Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth, and K. Lee Lerner, eds. Climate Change: In Context. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. < serGroupName=cant48040&tabID=T003&searchId=R1&resultListType=RESULT_LIS T&contentSegment=&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=1&contentSet=G ALE%7CCX3079000046&&docId=GALE|CX3079000046&docType=GALE&role=>.Lerner, Brenda Wilmoth, and K Lee Lerner, eds. Environmental Science: In Context. Detroit: Gale, 2009. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1 Nov. 2011. < PS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGroupName=cant48040&searchType=BasicSearchForm& docId=GALE%7C1UOJ>.Solomon, Barry D. “Biofuels and Sustainability.” Annals of the New York Academy 1185.1 (2010): 119-134. Academic Search Complete. Web. 24 Oct. 2011. < 108b67451ff9%40sessionmgr12&vid=6&hid=11>."The Energy Crisis." Is the World Heading Toward an Energy Crisis? Ed. Daniel A. Leone. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005. At Issue.Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 10 Nov. 2011. < GroupName=Reference&disableHighlighting=true&action=2&catId=GALE%7CAAA00
  10. 10. Meisner 100008537&documentId=GALE%7CEJ3010373112&userGroupName=cant48040&jsid=aa45a65df59c3e220d792fc071dab176>.