Definition of Biofuels

Biofuels are liquid fuels such as alcohol derived from processing certain parts of various plants.

Biomass is any living or non-living animal and plant matter. There is much more plant mass than animal on Earth. Since plants absorb and store energy from the sun, converting biomass into biofuels means the biofuels can serve as an energy source.

How are biofuels obtained?
Modern liquid biofuels need to be produced from original biomass. Animal-based or vegetable oils can be combined with other substances to generate a chemical reaction that yields biodiesel, a type of biofuel. Also, starch from crops like corn or sugarcane can be fermented into ethanol (alcohol), another type of biofuel. Finally, new developments are underway to try and find other means to obtain ethanol via non-food plant matter called cellulose and even non-food plants such as algae.

What are biofuels used for?
Biofuels are used for transportation. In some instances, biofuel can completely replace regular gasoline. In other instances, biofuel is combined with regular gasoline. In fact, U.S. federal law dictates that the country’s fuel supply is blended with a certain volume of biofuel. Due to this law, many gas stations now pump gas that is 10% ethanol.