AN INTRODUCTION TO BIOFUELS :
where are we and where are we going to?
Melvyn F. Askew
Founder of Census-Bio
Visiting Professor at Harper Adams
Fellow of Central Science Laboratory
Visiting Professor, INF, Poznan, Poland
EU TARGETS FOR SUSTAINABLE,
SECURE AND AFFORDABLE SUPPLIES OF
20% reduction in primary energy
consumption by 2020
20% reduction in greenhouse gases by
2020 ( Based upon 1990)
20% renewable energy in overall energy
mix by 2020.
10% min biofuels for vehicles by 2020
Liquid biofuels cannot be considered on their
own, in isolation from other energy sources
Current achievement of renewable energy
(NB renewable not just biorenewable!!)
Data here relate to EU in 2006.
All renewables = 7% cf 12% as 2010 target.
Biofuels = 1.4% cf 5.75% target for 2010.
Electricity = 15% cf 21% target for 2010.
Heating and cooling = 9% but no formal
targets in EU.
The above are EU figures based on
information from DG Res.
There are a range of gaseous emissions that
create pollution and a further range of
molecules that impact on ozone, with
adverse knock on effects on environment.
Of the former the key elements are NOx;
Methane; Carbon Dioxide.
Basically UK is doing quite well in all areas
EXCEPT CO2 and that is continuing to
REDUCTION OF CARBON DIOXIDE
There are several options:
1.Stop doing it
2.Substitute something that creates more of
a carbon balance eg biorenewables
3.Think laterally and join up policies and aims
4.Produce alternatives with equal
AND IT MAY NOT BE THE END PRODUCT
WHICH PRODUCES MOST EMISSIONS!!
REMEMBER UK WAS TARGETTING
MASSIVE CO2 REDUCTIONS BY 2050:
60% OF THE 1990 VALUES FOR CO2 – BUT
THAT IS LIKELY TO BECOME 80%
Technology roadmap: vision for biofuels for
A European Vision.
2005 2010/2020 2030 and 2030+
1st Generation, 2nd Generation, Integrated
e.g. biodiesel e.g. bioethanol
First Generation (Conventional) Biofuels.
Biofuel Type Specific Names Biomass Production
Bioethanol Conventional bioethanol Sugar beet, grains Hydrolysis &
Vegetable Oil Pure plant oil (PPO) Oil crops (e.g. rape Cold pressing/
Biodiesel Biodiesel from energy
Rape seed methyl ester Oil crops (e.g. rape Cold pressing/
(RME), fatty acid seed) extraction &
methyl/ethyl ester transesterification
Biodiesel Biodiesel from waste Waste/cooking/
FAME/FAEE frying oil/animal fat
Biogas Upgraded biogas (Wet) biomass
A WORD ON BIOBUTANOL
More energy content than ethanol.
Mixes easily with gasoline.
Does not absorb significant amounts of
Requires lower investment per tonne of
capacity provided pipeline distribution is
Making first generation biofuels
fatty acid ( ie. vegetable oil or animal fat) +
alcohol ( usually methyl alcohol) + a pinch of
a catalyst like caustic soda = first
generation biodiesel + glycerol.
Bioethanol ( replaces gasoline)
= fermented sugars or starches eg from
maize or sugar beet/cane or wheat.
FIRST GENERATION BIOFUELS : A
First generation biofuels tend to use
existing technologies ( eg fermentation of
sugars or esterification of oils ) to
transform current crops , especially food
crops, into gasoline and diesel
This may cause a food versus fuel conflict.
Second Generation Biofuels.
Biofuel Type Specific Names Biomass Production
Bioethanol Cellulosic bioethanol Lignocellulosic Advanced hydrolysis
material & fermentation
Synthetic Biofuels Biomass-to-liquids (BTL): Lignocellulosic Gasification &
Fischer-Tropsch (FT) diesel
Heavier (mixed) alcohols
Biodiesel Hydro-treated biodiesel Vegetable oils & Hydro-treatment
Biogas SNG (Synthetic Natural Gas) Lignocellulosic Gasification &
Biohydrogen Lignocellulosic Gasification &
material synthesis or
Another conclusion: Second generation
Second generation biofuels use new ( newer
if FT) technologies that are not yet always
Second generation biofuels tend to be
based upon wood or similar wastes
containing large amounts of ligno-cellulosic
and hemi-cellulosic molecules.
Second generation biofuel feedstocks may
conflict with market demands for heating
biofuels but there is no food conflict.
An important digression!!
In terms of reducing energy, the use of
biofuels is the lowest option after heat et
In terms of government investment, the
reduction of energy caused by investment
in good insulation is by far the ‘best buy’.
Cooling is becoming increasingly important
for energy and for insulation demands.
Anaerobic digestion of wastes and
avoidance of landfill is usually overlooked.
Remember The Gallagher Review of the
Indirect Effects of Biofuel Production
Food versus Fuel
The key causal areas:
USA and maize production for bioethanol
has changed land use in South America.
This has INCREASED CO2 production on a
net basis relative to use of fossil oils.
Use of tropical oils eg palm for biodiesel
manufacture has increased forest
degradation and clearance with adverse net
THE FUTURE FOR BIOFUELS
-In due course, second generation liquid
biofuels will be widely introduced.
-Much potential for bioheat/energy ( nb
-Biogas should not be overlooked but has
been in the past in UK
-Waste oils are not necessarily best as car
fuels – think of marine engines and think of
solvents too. NB vehicle warranty!!
Biofuels can offer options for reducing
Current emphasis is on first generation
biofuels but second generation will be more
important and fit in with feedstock
wastes/supplies more easily.
Heat and power are better buys for
national investment that biofuels alone.
National policies are not integrated