Low-Carbon Technologies: Transport Biofuels

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Transportation biofuels are derived from biomass and typically take the form of biodiesel (produced from vegetable oil or animal fat) and bioethanol (made by fermenting the starch or glucose of certain plants and crops).  First-generation biofuels are made directly from animal or plant byproducts, but are commonly criticized for negatively impacting the amount of food available for human consumption.  Second-generation biofuels are derived from biomass waste rather than designated energy crops, but these biofuels still impact the amount of land available for human food production.  Third-generation biofuels are derived from carbon dioxide-consuming microalgae.  This technology has the potential to impose the least impacts on human food needs but also requires the most research and development before it can be more globally implemented. 

 

While biofuels mitigate emissions associated with transportation emissions, there are still significant emissions associated with producing the base fuel products.  Improving fossil fuel-based production elements requires further research.  Policies focusing on reduced travel, reduced fuel demand and increased numbers of fuel-efficient vehicles will also positively contribute to greenhouse gas reductions in the transportation sector.