AAPG ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION
Making the Next Giant Leap in Geosciences
April 10-13, 2011, Houston, Texas, USA
An Update on Biofuel Source Developments
(1) Environmental Resources Management, Houston, TX.
With demand expected to continue to grow, the U.S. Congress along with energy planners and entrepreneurs have turned in part to biofuels as an alternative source of energy. The initial focus in the U.S. has been primarily on corn as a biomass source, since supplies had been plentiful, Midwest farm states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have historically promoted new uses of corn, and corn fermentation to ethanol was thought to represent a quick approach for rapidly altering U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Corn could be used as fuel if foreign sources of oil were curtailed.
Another driver in the movement to promote biofuels according to the International Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (IEA), has been the belief that climate change has been triggered by the increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases as a result of the combustion of “non-renewable” sources of energy (IEA, 2006). Using biomass for fuels essentially recycles carbon dioxide from the atmosphere rather than releasing new carbon from fossil fuels.
Corn starch, soy oil and palm oil may not represent the best biomass sources for biofuels as their use is perceived to be “robbing” using prime farmland, rain forests, and agricultural sources of food. This paper identifies factors to consider in selecting and developing “ideal” biofuels and reviews alternative sources under development. The authors report on the progress of leading candidates for the biorefinery of the near future, including development of perennial cellulose sources and microalgae.