The only bio fuels I support are the ones derived from algae. And there are several reasons why I think this.
If you use a crop (such as corn) as the bio-stock, then fuel production is competing with our food supply, our fresh water reserves, and our finite arable land. Add the fact that the agriculture infrastructure in developed countries run on vast quantities of petroleum, crop based bio-fuels are not saving us from using fossil fuels. Also, crops take seasons to grow, and the number of harvests will be limited during the course of a year. Algae has many advantages over annual crops.
Algae grows in salt water or sewage water. It can be harvested in the desert, from concrete ponds where nobody is growing food. Certain algae can double its biomass in a mere 24 hours, meaning daily harvests (or even better, constant harvesting.)
Algae, being a single cell organism, is relatively easy to genetically manipulate. Algae bio-fuel companies have successfully increased the lipid (oil) content of the algae to around 50% oil by weight. These same companies are also manipulating algae to produce the correct length of hydrocarbon chains to mimic specific fuels like kerosene jet fuel (carbon numbers 5-15 typically).
Algae bio-fuels have the potential to be carbon neutral. Any CO2 that results from burning algae bio-fuels had previously been sequestered from the atmosphere. Algae typically have to sequester twice as much CO2 from the air than will be put back into environment from burning the oil. The remaining carbon is trapped in the discarded husks of the algae (which can be used for other products.)
Algae oil will not be limited to diesel type fuels. Through genetic manipulation or by refining technologies, bio-gas, bio-gasoline, bio-kerosene, bio-diesel, bio-lubrication oil, and bio-plastics will all be possible to manufacture in an environmentally friendly manner. Keep in mind most of our petroleum comes from dead marine dwelling algae (the most common lifeforms on the planet) that, over time, have been exposed to intense heat and pressure. We can just skip the "fossil" part of fossil fuel.
Forgetting any "environmentalist" reasons for algae bio-fuels, just consider it from an energy independence stand point. I don't think I need to beat this dead horse for anyone reading the DIY Electric Car forum.
Algae bio-fuel is not the sole answer to our nations energy woes, but it certainly can be integrated as part of the solution. Liquid fuels have their place where they make sense. Batteries have an ever growing realm of where they make sense. Battery technology is truly getting better all the time, and may, one day, supplant the liquid fuels by high capacity and by quick recharging. Electrons are one of the smallest forms of matter in the universe. And day after day, humans get better at packing them in tighter.
Last edited by AviatorBJP; 03-05-2012 at 12:22 AM.