• By Prof. Adam Lee and Prof. Karen Wilson, Aston University •
Bioenergy and biofuels have an important role to play in lowering the use of carbon-intensive fossil fuels – a point underscored by the IPCC report which confirmed the need for further research to improve such technology.
A key challenge is creating alternative transport fuels, which are currently overwhelmingly fossil-fuel dependent, and responsible for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. Of the renewable energy alternatives such as wind, tidal and solar power, it is only non-edible biomass (broadly, any biological matter derived from plants or other organisms) that can offer a low-cost, “drop-in” sustainable transport fuel.
Such a liquid biofuel with a high energy density would fit easily into the enormous global fuel distribution networks that already exist. Other renewables such as wind and solar, though well-suited to powering static homes and industry, would require significant breakthroughs in battery technology before they could compete with gasoline, diesel or liquid biofuels.
With transport and emissions growing, an alternative is needed, fast. Biofuels derived from waste could replace 16%, or 37m tonnes, of oil used by road vehicles in the EU alone by 2030. But history has shown how introducing new and transformative technologies can be slow, especially when they seek to usurp the highly-embedded infrastructure of the status quo.
New raw materials
Each year India produces more than 200m tonnes of inedible agricultural waste such as rice and cotton stalks, unsuitable for either human consumption, animal fodder or bedding. Most is burned illegally to speed up the process of crop rotation. This releases huge quantities carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and wastes valuable hydrocarbons that could be put to use ...Zum vollständigen Artikel
2010 - taking positive action
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