What Are 3 Possible Sources of Fuel for Biodiesel Producers?
Edible and Inedible Oils
- Soybeans and corn are the crops most often associated with alternative fuels. Both are already in production, although there are concerns as to whether fuel should compete with food for valuable resources. Inedible oil producing plants also hold promise, especially those that grow on land otherwise difficult to farm. One such plant is jatropha, which WebEcoist calls the "new darling of the biodiesel movement."
- Thanks to biodiesel, waste vegetable oil is such a sought-after commodity that scientists are looking for more abundant sources of waste to turn into fuel. Garbage is full of fats and oils. So is sewage. The Alternative Energy News reports that a team of scientists at the University of Nevada have also developed a process for making biodiesel from something they call "chicken feather meal," composed of feathers, blood and entrails.
- One high-yield source of oil for biodiesel is algae. Oil-producing algae thrive in water and conditions unsuitable for normal crops, so no arable land or other precious resources are needed. The algae can even be grown in waste water from water treatment plants, according to researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
- Although the future looks bright for biodiesel, growing pains are inevitable. Fact or fiction, in a battle of food vs. fuel, biodiesel is bound to lose, especially in countries where the specter of food shortages already looms. Using waste to make fuel is a dream come true; production from current technology is limited, however. Oil-producing algae is only one of a growing number of promising new ideas. All of them face hurdles, but they are all being pursued by increasingly market- and tech-savvy groups. Only time will tell which if any of these sources will be sufficient to make a significant dent in the world's thirst for fuel.