Biofuels are fossil fuel substitutes that can be made from a range of agricultural crops including oilseeds, wheat and sugar, and from wastes like used cooking oil and tallow. The two most common current biofuels are bioethanol, which can be blended into petrol, and biodiesel, which can be blended into diesel. Blended in small quantities (currently up to 5%) these biofuels can be used safely in today's road vehicles. It is also possible to use higher blends of biofuel (e.g. B100 and E85 - 100% biodiesel and 85% ethanol) but this may require modifications to engines.
Biofuel technology has been around as long as the combustion engine, but concerns about fuel security, climate change, and the wish to support rural economies has led to plans for significant expansion in biofuel production across the globe, and has also stimulated research and development into 'second generation' fuels. These advanced biofuels are not yet commercially available, but offer the prospect of better environmental performance and of using a wider range of feedstocks, including additional wastes.
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2009