ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Autos»
  • Hybrids, Electric & Alternate Energy Vehicles

Renewable Fuels to replace gas: Cellulosic Ethanol and Algae Ethanol

Updated on April 19, 2012

Which ethanol would YOU choose?

Renewable fuel production is the new source of fuel that our vehicles will be operating on in the future. Much of these renewable fuels come from the production of ethanol, and the different types of ethanol include: grain, cellulosic, and algae ethanol. Over the next ten years, the US Renewable Fuels Standard has mandated that the total amount of renewable fuels to be blended into transportation needs to be at least 36 billion gallons. What this means is that ethanol production is going to dramatically increase over the next ten years. In order to increase sustainability, the target 36 billion gallons of ethanol should be increased because the potential of these renewable ethanol resources, specifically algae related, is very high.

Grain Ethanol...you call THAT sustainable?

The three main types of ethanol that the United States is focussing on over the next decade are grain ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, and algae ethanol. Grain ethanol is currently the most produced form of renewable ethanol, and it consumes about 30% of the country’s corn crop. It is produced from foods that are transformed into simple fermentable sugars which are used as energy (Regalbuto 1).

Although it does seem to lighten the amount of GHG emissions, it is questionable whether the benefits outweigh the problems. It promotes rural development, supports farmers, and increases energy security, but there are a few caveats that go with it.

Food prices will go up because farmers are being supported, the environmental resources will deteriorate, smog will develop in heavy traffic environments, and grain ethanol actually does not reduce very much GHGs at all. (Grain Ethanol - Why Consider Food for Fuel - Richard K Perrin).Overall, it is inefficient because it does not produce a large amount of energy compared to the amount of food that is used.

Cellulosic Ethanol could help us out

Cellulosic ethanol is a renewable resource currently being researched and developed because it has the potential to alleviate our dependence on oil. It combines the above ethanol with the converting of the woody parts of trees, plants, grasses, or residues into sugars that are fermented into ethanol (Solomon 417).

Opposed to grain ethanol, which only depends on corn as an input, cellulosic ethanol is more promising in terms of sustainability. Despite the facts that it covers a large geographical area and does not have a huge return on investment yet, the vast amount of resources available and the pushing away from foreign dependence make it worth commercializing and investing in (418). Likewise, the emissions are next to nothing.

From Algae to Ethanol Fuel

Algae Ethanol is incredibly efficient

The last renewable source of ethanol is through algae that is converted into either ethanol or diesel. This method is different because the algae is extremely concentrated in lakes or ponds, and it is produced through a complex process and formed into ethanol.

However, the main problem is that there is not technology yet that can extract the energy necessary under high variable conditions (Radakovitz 2). But with the incredible density, it is postulated that a little over 20,000 square miles will be able to supply most of the current US transportation fuel demand. Because of the knowledge that technology is the one main obstacle to algae production, as shown in the picture to the right, the standards should be increased because it will encourage more research in this field of work.

Just a few more years...

These EPA fuel standards are fairly reasonable

According to the chart given in the EPA regulatory announcement that gives the renewable fuel requirements from now until 2022, it would be more sustainable to increase the requirements because the main obstacle to decreasing oil dependence is technological advances.

More emphasis needs to be put on improving technology, specifically in the field of algae related ethanol. The chart indicated that the requirement, in billions, for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, Total Advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel requirements for 2012 are .5, 1.0, 2.0, and 15.0, respectively (USEPA 3).

The numbers for cellulosic biofuel and biomass-based diesel should remain similar because the potential output is much lower than for other renewable sources, like algae ethanol. A higher standard requirement will greatly encourage research in this field, and with a simplified method for harvesting and producing ethanol from algae, foreign dependence on oil will dramatically lessen and CO2 emissions will be severely drop because of ethanol use instead of petroleum.

Increase the EPA standards

Overall, the yearly target of 36 billion barrels of ethanol by 2022 should be increased because the algae ethanol is dense enough to provide for the entire US fuel consumption within an area close to 35 square miles. Cellulosic and grain ethanol, require much more area and effort to get the same effects. Therefore, the extra technological push to research cheaper ways of algae production is not only suggested but necessary.

Source

Sources

"EPA Proposes 2012 Renewable Fuel Standards and 2013 Biomass-Based Diesel Volume." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, June 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/420f11018.htm>.

Perrin, Richard K. Grain Ethanol - Why Consider Food for Fuel. Faculty Publications, 21 Feb. 2008. Print.

Radakovitz, Randor. "Genetic Engineering of Algae for Enhanced Biofuel Production."American Society for Microbiology 9.4 (2012): 486-501. Feb. 2010. Print.

Regalbuto, John R. "Cellulosic Biofuels−Got Gasoline?" Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science, 14 Aug. 2009. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <http://www.sciencemag.org/content/325/5942/822.full>.

Solomon, Barry D. "Grain and Cellulosic Ethanol: History, Economics, and Energy Policy." SciVerse. Biocomplexity Program of the National Science Foundation, June 2007. 416-425.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. Office of Transportation and Air Quality. EPA Finalizes Regulations for the National Renewable Fuel Standard Program for 2010 and Beyond. Print.

BEFORE YOU GO!

If you liked this article, please don't forget to vote it up, comment, and share! And feel free to check out one of the following articles.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • chasemillis profile image
      Author

      chasemillis 6 years ago

      Thanks manuspohr! Feel free to share it!

    • manuspohr profile image

      manuspohr 6 years ago from Massachussets

      This Hub is very nice! voted up useful. Thank you for shared. :)

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)