Liquid Biofuels

Liquid biofuels are derived from crops that have particular characteristics. For example, some crops are chosen for their high sugar content, e.g. sugar cane and sorghum, while others are chosen because they are high in starch, e.g. corn and maize. Yeast fermentation is then used with these crops to produce bioethanol.

Alternatively, crops are chosen due to their high amounts of vegetable oil, e.g. soybean and jatropha. This oil can either be used directly or can be processed further to create fuels such as biodiesel.

Biofuels are usually classified in generations.

First-generation biofuels tend to come from food crops, e.g. corn and maize. One of the best-known examples is ethanol fuel in Brazil. In the past few years, however, the use of some first-generation fuels has caused controversy, with some claiming that this form of energy production diverts crops from the food chain.

Second-generation biofuels have emerged that either come from non-food crops, e.g. jatropha and miscanthus, or use inedible parts of crops and waste products, e.g. cellulosic ethanol.

Third-generation biofuels, which are still at the experimental stage, include algae grown using ocean water and waste water. As such they do not affect fresh water resources. They are also biodegradable and have a high energy yield.


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