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Home » Biology Homework Help » Biotechnology » Features of Biofuels
Features of Biofuels
Useful features

The biofuels have a number of desirable features which are briefly summarized below:

1. Most of the biofuels are derived from biomass, which is renewable, low cost and locally available entailing little or no commitment of foreign exchange.

2. In general, they lead to relatively low CO2 omission than fossil fuels.

3. They do not contribute to environmental pollution due to gases like SO2 etc.

4. The substrate is often a waste, including municipal waste. Use of such materials for biofuels production not only generates a more valuable product from low cost substrate but also help in cleaning up the environment.

Undesirable features

A number of features of biofuels are distinctly disadvantageous; some of these are summarized below:

1. Very large volumes of the product are required so that the production has to be taken on a very large scale, and usually near to the site of use.

2. As a consequence, the substrate requirement is equally large to produce which large areas of land would be needed, and often transport of this material will also be necessary.

3. The product is generally of low value and rather low profit margin (the cost of production being over 75% of the sale price; this compares unfavorably with pharmaceutical products; as a result, not very attractive commercially. This has prevented a more rapid industrialization of biofuels production.

Areas for future research focus

In view of the above, the following areas appears to be the targets of focused research to make biofuels a commercially attractive proposition.

1. More efficient processes especially continuous processes, must be developed to reduce the cost of production.

2. To achieve the above, organisms with higher product yields, and greater product tolerance must be developed.

3. Efficient processes to utilize low cost substrates for biofuels production are urgently needed.

4. The continuous processes of biofuels production cannot allow for continuous selection programmes to maintain the desirable features of microbes. In any case, such selection add to the production cost. Therefore, it is important to develop genetically stable high producing micro-organisms.

5. The sources of biomass or their derivatives to be used as substrates should be identified and their cheap and abundant supply should be ensured. The biomass may be obtained from fast growing or high producing plant species, called energy crops, suited for this purpose. Genetic and agronomic improvements of such crops would reduce production costs.

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