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Using biodiesel has many advantages over using petroleum diesel. For one, it is plant-based, therefore a renewable energy. 36 Secondly, biodiesel lubricates moving engine parts better than petroleum diesel, so it reduces wear and tear on engines. ) or release harmful emissions that contribute to acid rain. Fuel for Thought It takes less energy to make biodiesel from plant oils than it takes to distill corn for ethanol. 37 Some scientists are excited about the potential of algae as a source of biodiesel.
The finished product, ethanol, is added to gasoline to make gasohol. Gasohol is a blend of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol. S. Most car engines burn gasohol as easily as they burn gasoline. 30 31 CHAPTER ELEVEN Sugarcane Ethanol Some forms of biomass are better ethanol producers than corn. Brazil, for example, uses sugarcane. Experts point out that an acre of sugarcane produces about 700 gallons of ethanol, while an acre of corn produces only 350 gallons. In an effort to reduce their dependence on foreign oil, Brazil requires that all motor vehicle fuels contain a blend of at least 24 percent ethanol.
Brazil’s use of ethanol has greatly reduced the amount of petroleum they import. 32 33 CHAPTER TWELVE Energy Crops Many scientists believe the best strategy for producing ethanol from biomass is to use energy crops rather than food crops. Energy crops include fast growing trees like poplar and native grasses like switchgrass. Energy crops require less fertilizer and are more productive. Energy crops, grown on farms just like food crops, are better for the environment and cost less to produce. 34 Burning biomass pollutes the air by releasing carbon dioxide.