Biofuels include biodiesel, rapeseed oil, ethanol, methane from biogas or BTL (biomass-to-liquid) fuels. Since biofuel offers similarities parameters to petrol and diesel, they are especially useful to the automotive industries.
Like petrol and diesel, biofuel is used in highly developed combustion engines with relatively simple adaptation measures. Apart from biomethane, which is chemically identical to natural gas, biofuels are liquid and therefore easy to store and to distribute via the existing petrol station network. They have a similarly high energy density to conventional fuels and therefore do not restrict the range of the vehicles.
In terms of production, the US has a clear lead with an annual biofuel production of more than 4,000TWh. Brazil, the world’s second-largest producer, amounts for roughly 2,500TWh while Europe and Asia are lagging far behind. Those numbers have to be approached carefully, though, as missing data in many parts of the world makes it difficult to get a full picture.
The cultivation of renewable resources is now an important alternative source of income for agriculture. Today, rapeseed for biodiesel, grain and sugar beet for ethanol and corn for biomethane essentially form the raw material mix for domestic biofuel production. Only a part of the raw materials is processed into biofuel and a not insignificant part into protein-rich animal feed.
As a rather clean and renewable energy source, biofuels contribute to climate protection, as their combustion releases only the carbon dioxide that the plants have previously bound during their growth. Even if their CO2 balance is not completely neutral due to the manufacturing processes, they can make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector.
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