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An Introduction to Biofuels

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Melissa Toifl, scientist at CSIRO and Scientist in Schools mentor, produced this presentation for Year 8 students at Hawkesdale P12 College.

Melissa Toifl, scientist at CSIRO and Scientist in Schools mentor, produced this presentation for Year 8 students at Hawkesdale P12 College.

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    An Introduction to Biofuels An Introduction to Biofuels Presentation Transcript

    • An Introduction to Biofuels
      Prepared for Hawksdale P12 College,
      Melissa ToiflCSIRO
    • What are Biofuels?
      Biofuels are liquid fuels that have been developed from other materials such as plant or animal waste matter.
      Image from: avantium.com
    • Why are Biofuels Important?
      Peak Oil
      Finite Fossil Fuels
      Carbon Footprint
      Energy Security
      Cleaner more sustainable fuel source
      Less emissions
      Benefits for regional Australia
    • Issues with Biofuels
      Competition with food crops – ethanol and some biofuels
      Higher variability in costs
      Infrastructure for producing biofuels
      Market for fuel blends (flexi-fuel vehicles). Currently E10 is common but higher ethanol to petrol blends such as E85 are not common
      Only about 5 % of the 8 000 plus service stations across Australia are now selling ethanol or biodiesel blends.
    • Main Types of Biofuels
      Bioethanol
      Is an alcohol
      Made by fermenting sugar and starch components of plant materials by using a strain of yeast
      Ethanol is currently most commonly used as fuel for vehicles in a blended petrol form
      Sugarbeet soon to be produced into ethanol
    • Main Types of Biofuels
      Biodiesel
      Is not an alcohol
      Is produced from renewable plant or animal feedstockswhich contain long chain fatty acids
      Can be used as fuel for vehicles
      Canola, algae, sunflower, mustard crops can all make suitable biofuels
      Canola cropImage courtesy of CSIRO
    • Biofuels in the Carbon Cycle
      Image from: organic-center.org
    • Algal Based Biofuels
      Different species of algae can be used
      Seawater and freshwater species
      Algae that are good for biofuels have a high lipid (fatty acid) content
      Some species grow rapidly and are more resilient than others
      Algae require warmer temperatures, correct light/sunlight, and sufficient nutrients to grow
    • What does algae look like?
      Image from: telovation.com
    • What does algae look like?
      Image from: rechargenews.com
    • A microscopic view
      Image from: godieselusa.com
    • Producing a Biofuel
      Image from: nextoils.eu
    • Growing Algae
      Raceway ponds or photo bioreactors most common for algal based biofuels
    • Raceway ponds
      Image from: algaeindustrymagazine.com
    • Photo bio-reactors
      Image from: brae.calpoly.edu
    • Growing algae for Biofuel
      Shallow water is best as algae tend to grow close to the surface because they like sunlight
      Shallow water will also be warmer – required for maximum growth
      Conditions required for good algal production are more likely to be found in the upper half of Australia
    • Harvesting a Biofuel
      Need to collect the algae
      Then need to remove the excess water
      Some common methods to do this:
      Centrifugation
      Flocculation
      Filtration
      Difficult with large scale algal production
    • Processing a Biofuel
      Once the algae was had the water removed, it is dried and then the oil extraction can be done
      Mechanical presses
      Chemical extraction by breaking the cell membranes (walls) down with chemicals
      Solvent extraction by dissolving the algae in hexane or another solvent
      Algal oil is then ready to be turned into a fuel
      May involve extracting different fractions and combining with additives and other fuels
    • Distilling and refining
    • Research areas
      Lots of research in all areas of biodiesel production
      Designs around growing algae – what is best, conditions required
      Harvesting methods – problems with dewatering and costs
      Processing methods can be expensive
    • Conclusions
      Biofuels are almost certain to play an important role in future fuel supplies
      Lots of research in this area all over the world including Australia
      Advances are being made quickly in some areas
      New methods are being developed for all steps of algal fuel production