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First Generation Biofuels

Essay by   •  March 20, 2013  •  Essay  •  365 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,251 Views

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First generation biofuels are generated from food crops by removing the oils for use in biodiesel or by producing bioethanol through the process of fermentation. Corn and sugarcane are the two primary crops used in the production of first generation biofuels. Although, first generation biofuels do pose a solution to energy security, it also has many short comings. This biggest of these short comings is the "food vs. energy" debate. Since first generation biofuels uses food crops to produce energy, the demand for biofuels has led to an increase in the volumes of crops being diverted away from the global food market and as a result global food prices have risen. Many question the ethical use of these crops for energy, when much of the developing world lives on two dollars a day and are very undernourished or starving. Also many question the actually benefit in first generation biofuels reducing CO2 emissions due to the fact that some biofuels can produce a negative net energy gain, meaning that more carbon is produce in the production of these fuels than the feedstock captures in its growth causing a positive carbon balance. A more sustainable solution to the energy crisis is second generation biofuels. Second generation biomass undergoes hydrolysis and then fermentation to produce lignocellulosic ethanol. Since second generation use the left over waste of food crops, it does not compete with world food crops. Also, second generation biofuels has both a negative carbon balance and a higher energy gain. This means that the output of energy is higher than the input of energy and that more CO2 is leaving the atmosphere and being fixed, than it is being admitted in the process of producing this source of energy. Because second generation biofuels have both economic and environmental benefits, it's practical that the government passes more policies that benefit second generation biofuels. The government can pass policies that grant more funding to universities that research and develop new processing technology for second generation biofuels and give biofuel companies subsidies to purchase the latest processing technology. I also want to briefly mention third generation biofuels, energy that comes from algae, but this is not yet economically attainable.

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