Can wereally survive without fossil fuels?Fossil fuelsare fuels that were formed over millions of years from the remains of deadorganisms1.Fossil fuels are non-renewable and can emit a lot of carbon dioxide and otherdangerous pollutants. Fossil fuels are used in everyday life from filling upyour car with fuel or cooking your dinner on a gas stove, it all contributes topolluting the earth, that’s why people are switching to using bioenergy becauseit is much cleaner and renewable and isn’t as harmful to the earth and people, alsothere are many sources able to use making it available to loads of people.
Thereare many different types of bioenergy such as:· Windpower- Wind power is energy harnessed from the wind to propel the blades of awind turbine and generate electricity2· Solarpower- Solar energy is used commonly for cooking, heating, the production ofenergy and sometimes the desalination of seawater. Solar power uses sunlight,which hits solar thermal panels that convert sunlight to heat, water or air3· Biobasedproducts- Biobased products are industrialproducts that are composed in whole, or in significant part, of biologicalproducts or renewable domestic agricultural materials or forestry materials,such as- plastics, adhesive, paper.4· BiomassFeedstocks- Biomass feedstocks are the plant and algal materials used to derivefuels like ethanol, butanol, biodiesel, and other hydrocarbon fuels.5· Biomass-Biomass is any organic matter eg- wood, crops, seaweed, animal waste that canbe used as an energy source.
· Biofuels- Biofuels are fuels produced from plantmaterial, biofuels, like fossil fuels come in several different energy needs.6Biofuels are broken down into generations, there are threemain categories under which biofuels fall: First, second and third generationbiofuels7and some people even say that there is a fourth generation. First generationbiofuels are produced directly from food crops by abstracting the oils through fermentation.A lot of crops can be turned into biodiesel and bioethanol such as wheat andsugar which are widely used feedstocks for bioethanol and rapeseed oil used inbiodiesels.
But there are a lot of problems associated with the first-generationbiofuels, there have been a lot of debates over the fact that some biofuels canproduce negative net gains, releasing more carbon in their production ratherthan their feedstock’s capture in their growth, questioning whether they arebeneficial in reducing greenhouse gases and CO2 emissions8.However, the biggest issue with first generation biofuels is the ‘fuel vs food’debate which is the dilemma regarding whether we should use the farmland andland for crops to use in biofuels or crops for food supply9.Second generation biofuels are produced from non-food cropssuch as wood, organic waste, food crop waste and specific biomass crops,therefore eliminating the main problem with first generation biofuels, alsolife cycle assessments of second generation biofuels have indicated that theywill increase net energy gains overcoming another limitation of firstgeneration biofuels second generation biofuels are also aimed at being morecost competitive in relation to existing fossil fuels 10.Third generation biofuels takes the advantage of specially engineeredenergy crops such as algae as its energy source.
The algae are cultured to actas a low cost, high energy and renewable feedstock that will have the potentialto produce more energy per acre than conventional crops. Another benefit ofusing the algae is that the fuel can be manufactured into a wide range of fuelssuch as diesel, petrol and jet fuel11.Fourth Generation Bio-fuels are aimed at not only producingsustainable energy but also a way of capturing and storing co2. Biomassmaterials, which have absorbed co2 while growing, are converted into fuel usingthe same processes as second-generation biofuels. This process differs fromsecond and third generation production as at all stages of production thecarbon dioxide is captured using processes such as oxy-fuel combustion. Thiscarbon capture makes fourth generation biofuel production carbon negativerather than simply carbon neutral, as it is ‘locks’ away more carbon than itproduces. This system not only captures and stores carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,but it also reduces co2 emissions by replacing fossil fuels12.The same feedstock can and can’t be used in every countrybecause not every country can access the same resources for example in someparts of Africa the land isn’t right to grow crops to produce energy viabiomass but in places like the UK farmers can grow the crops to produce energyvia biomass.
But on the other hand, the different countries could be able toaccess the same feedstocks and use them for example the UK and USA may havewood, organic waste or specific biomass crops, so they’re both able to produceenergy, it depends on the resources they have.There are many benefits to using bioenergy such as:· Itemits little to none greenhouse gases · Itis a useful way of managing waste disposal· Ableto deliver reliable energy· Canbe stored with minimal energy loss· Alot of energy can be produced wherever there are agricultural crops andforestry13· Onceset up pays for itself· If there are feedstocks there’senergy LCA’s are used for many things, such as: used for the assessment of industrial systems,it is also used in assessing food waste and the development of the foodindustry 14.LCA’s are also used to explore potential impacts to a range of environmentalmetrics and resource depletion15and environmental damage.One problem with using a Life Cycle Analysis is that it onlytells you the processes, inputs and outputs and no other details such as:pricing, how long the process takes eg.
Another problem with using a Life CycleAnalysis is that rigid system boundaries make accounting for changes in thesystem difficult, also the accuracy and availability of data can alsocontribute to problems. For instance, data from generic processes may be basedon averages, unrepresentative sampling, or outdated results making moreproblems16. Biofuels are fuels produced from plant material17,there are many types of biofuels such as: · Bioethanol-is a renewable energy source made by fermenting sugar and starch18· Biodiesel-Biodiesel is an alternative fuel it can be produced from straight vegetableoil, animal oil/fats, tallow and waste cooking oil19.· Biogas-Biogas is a biofuel produced from the anaerobic fermentation of carbohydratesin plant material or waste (eg food peelings or manure) by bacteria20.· Biobutanol-Biobutanol is a second-generation alcoholic fuel21made through the fermentation of starch22.· Biohydrogen-Biohydrogen, like biogas, can be produced using a number processes such aspyrolysis, gasification or biological fermentation23.
Biohydrogen is hydrogen produced through the action of living organisms24.There are many chemical and physical properties of biodiesel,here are a few of them: Physical Chemical A liquid of different colours Immiscible with water at a high boiling point Density of ~ 0.88g/cm Higher flash point than petroleum diesel Higher cetane ratings Calorific value of ~ 37.
27MJ/L Sulphur free emissions Non-toxic 25 The more properties we can identify for a substance, thebetter we know the nature of that substance. These properties can then help usmodel the substance and thus understand how this substance will behave undervarious conditions26.Many countries use bioethanol, bioethanol is used as a petrolsubstitute for road transport vehicles27.One of the mass producers of bioethanol is Brazil producing 25 billion litresof bioethanol using sugar canes28.
Bioethanol was implemented in Brazil because of sugar cane being cultivated29.Bioethanol can be produced from biomass by the hydrolysis and sugarfermentation processes. The hydrolysis process breaks down the cellulostic partof the biomass or corn into sugar solutions that can then be fermented intoethanol. Yeast is added to the solution, which is then heated. The yeastcontains an enzyme called invertase, which acts as a catalyst and helps toconvert the sucrose sugars into glucose and fructose30. The first bioethanol fuel productionplant went on line in 1927, the Usina Serra Grande Alagoas31.
Bioethanol was and still is a big success in Brazil because over the next 15years, production of ethanol increased hugely from 0.6 billion litres in 1975to 11 billion litres in 199032. In my opinion, it would not be possible to completely switch toalternative energy in the near future because the power plants we currentlyhave are designed to use coal, oil and gas to provide electricity and to changethe structure of the power plants to use other fuels would incur huge expenses,and some countries that already have powerplants can’t afford to replace/refurbishthem. For example, if you were to use coca cola to provide electricity and notoil, you would have to change the whole structure f the power plants so they’reable to turn it into electricity, also it would be costly to pay for theresearch into making coca cola energy and having to pay the scientists andworkers to do their jobs, but if World Leaders, governments and the big powercompanies fund research; convert old power plants and invest in new methods ofalternative energy, to make the environment safer and healthier, as well asworking towards providing affordable energy for everyone. Then in the long termfuture a combination of renewable, sustainable and cleaner resources such as;hydro-electric and geothermal energy, the harnessing of tidal, solar and wind powerand production of biomass fuels would enable a complete switch and the planetcould benefit from less emissions and pollution.
In conclusion I the we can survive without fossil fuelsbecause bioenergy runs off several sources and there are many different typesof bioenergy that the whole world could use, however some people are very reliableon fossil fuels and may feel sceptic about changing so it may take a while foreveryone to survive without fossil fuels, but we will eventually get there. If morepeople educated themselves about bioenergy they would see how bioenergy is muchmore efficient than fossil fuels and how we really could survive without fossilfuels. Its not just people that learn to live without fossil fuels businesseswill have to learn, humanshave done it for centuries. For example, the airline industry will have toreplace their fossil fuels for their planes to biofuels. Eventually we will survivewithout fossil fuels like some people are already living without fossil fuels. 1 (BBC, n.d.)2 (Orloff, n.d.)3 (Greenough River Solar Farm, n.d.)4 (USDA, n.d.)5 (Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, n.d.)6 (Biofuel, 2010)7 (Open Clean tech, n.d.)8 (University Of Edinburgh, n.d.)9 (University Of Edinburgh, n.d.)10 (University Of Edinburgh, n.d.)11 (University Of Edinburgh, n.d.)12 (University Of Edinburgh, n.d.)13 (Origin Energy, n.d.)14 (Notarnicola, et al., n.d.)15 (McManus & Taylor, n.d.)16 (Wikipedia, n.d.)17 (Biofuel, 2010)18 (Imaginfires, n.d.)19 (Esrustrath, n.d.)20 (BBC Bitesize, n.d.)21 (Shine, n.d.)22 (University of Edinburgh, n.d.)23 (University of Edinburgh, n.d.)24(University of Birmingham, n.d.)25 (Saraswat, et al., n.d.)26 (Leon, n.d.)27 (Esrustrath, n.d.)28 (BioFuel, n.d.)29 (Wikipedia, n.d.)30 (Esrustrath, n.d.)31 (Wikipedia, n.d.)32 (Almeida, n.d.)