Biofuels

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Increasing the use of biofuel could save 5000 million tons of CO2 a year. Indeed, the CO2 that is emitted as they burn was already circulating in the atmosphere beforehand: it had been transitorily absorbed by the plants which were used to make it. The total amount of greenhouse gases produced by biofuel is therefore reduced.

Firstly, because it takes energy to produce them: to make fertilisers and pesticides, to make agricultural equipment work, etc. In some cases like sugar cane alcohol, this is insignificant but this is not the case of corn-based ethanol, America’s main biofuel. It sometimes generates less energy than what is required to produce it.

Moreover, in Indonesia and Malaysia, most of the deforestation is due to oil palm plantations. Some of these are used for biofuel. This deforestation emits large amounts of greenhouse gas.

Lastly, some vegetation meant for biofuel is grown on increasingly scarce land that could be used to grow food. We either have to feed mankind or feed engines! Indeed, the entire world’s agricultural land is not enough to produce sufficient fuel for the almost 2 billion cars on the road.

To solve these problems, specialists are trying to develop new so-called second generation biofuels. They are made out of the inedible parts of food-producing plants like straw, wood and plants that can grow on poorer soil. In the meantime, we must remember that CO2 emissions could be reduced even further by improving existing vehicles – better motorisation, lighter bodywork, etc

Abrams.

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