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Bio-Fuels: a Debatable Topic

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Bio-fuels: a debatable topic
A warm welcome to respected dignitaries and all the participants who are present here today, My name is Swaroop. I’m pursuing M.Sc (ag) extension. I remember that my grandfather used to quote “well done is better than well said” a statement given by Benjamin franklin. Biofuels are they as green as they claim to be? It is well said -yes this fuel has a component of BIO, but is biofuel well doing in meeting all its requirements? Hmm…a debatable topic. As context of my argument, I strongly argue that they are not eco-friendly-when completely relied upon. So what are Biofuels? A biofuel is a fuel that contains energy from geologically recent carbon fixation. These fuels are produced from living organisms. Examples of this carbon fixation occur in plants and microalgae. These fuels are made by a biomass conversion (biomass refers to recently living organisms, most often referring to plants or plant-derived materials). This biomass can be converted to convenient energy containing substances in three different ways: thermal, chemical and biochemical conversion. Biofuels have increased in popularity because of rising oil prices and the need for energy security. This biofuels are 1St and 2nd generation. 1st generation conatins ethanol, biodiesel, vegetable oil mostly. The second generation biofuels are mostly made from the lignocellulosic biomass or woody crops, agricultural residues or waste.
Taking a brisk turn towards my argument, There are various social, economic, environmental and technical issues with biofuel production and use. These include: the population explosion, the "food vs fuel" debate, poverty reduction potential, carbon emissions levels, sustainable biofuel production, deforestation and soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, impact on water resources, the possible modifications necessary to run the engine on biofuel, as well as energy balance and efficiency of the biofuels.
Population Growth:
What has the population growth to do with the biofuels? It has plays a prominent role. The global population is expected to grow by 36% between 2000 and 2030, from 6.1 billion in 2000 to approximately 8.3 billion (medium projection of UN/FAO). Developing countries will contribute the most to this increase with their total population increasing from 4.7 to 6.9 billion over the same period (plus 45%). What does a Growing population needs the most? Food, and Data from the FAO ‘s survey shows that from 1961 to 2005 show reduced average annual percent yield increases of six field crops. FAO assumes future yield increases for cereals in developing countries which are closer to lower global average rates of recent years, i.e. around 1% per year. Plausible estimates for global yields in the next decade are 1-1.1% p.a. for cereals, 1.3% p.a. for wheat and coarse grains, 1.3% p.a. for roots and tubers and 1.7% p.a. for oilseeds and vegetable oils. These rates of increase are below average rates of the past four decades. Recent findings show that climate change has already reduced average crop yields. The FAO expects the meat consumption of the world population to increase by 22% per capita from 2000 to 2030, the milk & dairy consumption by 11% and that of vegetable oils by 45%. Commodities with lower land requirements like cereals, roots and tubers, and pulses will increase at lower rates per capita. From the Gallagher report, an estimated additional requirement of 144 to 334 Mha of global cropland for food in 2020 can be derived. A study for the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development shows that market-driven expansion of ethanol in the US increased maize prices by 21 percent in 2009, in comparison with what prices would have been had ethanol production been frozen at 2004 levels.[5] A November 2011 study states that biofuels, their production, and their subsidies as leading causes of agricultural price shocks.

Water quality There is a link between environmental impacts estimated by life-cycle impact assessments on a project level and water quality problems described at the regional scale. For instance, in the Mississippi drainage basin, increased corn acreage and fertiliser application rates, due to growing biofuel production, have been shown to increase nitrogen and phosphorus losses to streams, rivers, lakes and coastal waters, particularly in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coastal waters downstream of expanding production areas, leading to serious hypoxia problems (shortage of oxygen). Changing agricultural practices with the relevant feedstock crop may mitigate some of the pressures, but will most probably not be sufficient to improve regional environmental conditions, such as water quality.
Water consumption: Agriculture currently uses some 70% of fresh water globally, and biofuel development would add to this. Water consumption varies with crop types used as feedstocks as well as production methods and conversion technologies. Feedstock production for biofuels in water scarce regions requires irrigation, which may lead to competition with food production as well as pressure on water resources beyond the restoration capacity. Extreme weather events (inundation, droughts) due to climate change might increase uncertainty in terms of available water resources
Land use:
Global land use for the production of biofuel crops – mainly sourced from food crops – is growing. In 2008, biofuel crop production covered about 2.3% or about 36 Mha of global cropland, as compared to 26.6 Mha or 1.7% of global cropland in 2007, and 13.8 Mha or about 0.9% of global cropland in 2004.
In Indonesia, a further extension of 20 Mha for palm oil trees is planned, compared with the existing stock of at least 6 Mha. Two-thirds of the current expansion of palm oil cultivation in Indonesia is based on the conversion of rainforests. Large-scale deforestation of mature trees contributes to un-sustainable global warming atmospheric greenhouse gas levels, loss of habitat, and a reduction of valuable biodiversity . Demand for biofuel has led to clearing land for palm oil plantations.[15] In Indonesia alone, over 9,400,000 acres (38,000 km2) of forest have been converted to plantations since 1996. [16]
"Sugarcane ethanol and soybean biodiesel each contribute to nearly half of the projected indirect deforestation of 121,970 km2 by 2020, creating a carbon debt that would take about 250 years to be repaid. Of the converted rainforest areas, one quarter contained peat soil with a high carbon content – resulting in particularly high GHG emissions when drained for oil palms. By 2030, a share of 50% from peat soils is expected. If current trends continue, in 2030 the total rainforest area of Indonesia will have been reduced by 29% as compared to 2005, and would only cover about 49% of its original area from 1990. There are various estimates of potentials of biofuel production which calculate cropland requirements between 53 Mha in 2030 and 1668 Mha in 2050. About 118 to 508 Mha would be required to provide 10% of the global transport fuel demand with first generation biofuels in 2030. This would equal 8% to 36% of current cropland, incl. permanent cultures
Clearing the natural vegetation mobilizes the stocked carbon and may lead to a carbon debt, which could render the overall GHG mitigation effect of biofuels questionable for the following decades. The total CO2 emissions from 10% of the global diesel and gasoline consumption during 2030 was estimated at 0.84 Gt CO2, of which biofuels could substitute 0.17 to 0.76 Gt CO2 (20-90%), whereas the annual CO2 emissions from direct land conversion alone are estimated to be in the range of 0.75 to 1.83 Gt CO2. Even higher emissions would result in the case of biodiesel originating from palm oil plantations established on drained peat-land.
Pollution:
Formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and other aldehydes are produced when alcohols are oxidized. When only a 10% mixture of ethanol is added to gasoline (as is common in American E10 gasohol and elsewhere), aldehyde emissions increase 40%
Brazil burns significant amounts of ethanol biofuel. Gas chromatograph studies were performed of ambient air in São Paulo Brazil, and compared to Osaka Japan, which does not burn ethanol fuel. Atmospheric Formaldehyde was 160% higher in Brazil, and Acetaldehyde was 260% higher.[27]
Energy Efficiency:
The energy balance of a biofuel (sometimes called "Net energy gain" and EROEI) is determined by the amount of energy put into the manufacture of fuel compared to the amount of energy released when it is burned in a vehicle. This varies by feedstock and according to the assumptions used. Biodiesel made from sunflowers may produce only 0.46 times the input rate of fuel energy.[29] Biodiesel made from soybeans may produce 3.2 times the input rate of fossil fuels.[30] This compares to 0.805 for gasoline and 0.843 for diesel made from petroleum.[31] Biofuels may require higher energy input per unit of BTU energy content produced than fossil fuels. After factoring in the energy needed to grow crops and then convert them into biofuels, Cornell University researcher David Pimental concludes that the numbers just don’t add up. His 2005 study found that producing ethanol from corn required 29 percent more energy than the end product itself is capable of generating. He found similarly troubling numbers in making biodiesel from soybeans.

To explain one specific example, a June 17, 2006 editorial in the Wall. St. Journal stated, "The most widely cited research on this subject comes from Cornell's David Pimental and Berkeley's Ted Patzek. They've found that it takes more than a gallon of fossil fuel to make one gallon of ethanol — 29% more.
A paper published in February 2008 in Sciencexpress by a team led by Searchinger from Princeton University concluded that once considered indirect land use changes effects in the life cycle assessment of biofuels used to substitute gasoline, instead of savings both corn and cellulosic ethanol increased carbon emissions as compared to gasoline by 93 and 50 percent respectively
Are There Enough Farms and Crops to Support a Switch to Biofuels?
Another major hurdle for widespread adoption of biofuels is the challenge of growing enough crops to meet demand, something skeptics say might well require converting just about all of the world’s remaining forests and open spaces over to agricultural land.
“Replacing only five percent of the nation’s diesel consumption with biodiesel would require diverting approximately 60 percent of today’s soy crops to biodiesel production,” says Matthew Brown, an energy consultant and former energy program director at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “That’s bad news for tofu lovers.”
Does Producing Biofuels Use More Energy than They Can Generate?
Another dark cloud looming over biofuels is whether producing them actually requires more energy than they can generate. After factoring in the energy needed to grow crops and then convert them into biofuels, Cornell University researcher David Pimental concludes that the numbers just don’t add up. His 2005 study found that producing ethanol from corn required 29 percent more energy than the end product itself is capable of generating. He found similarly troubling numbers in making biodiesel from soybeans.
“There is just no energy benefit to using plant biomass for liquid fuel,” Pimentel says.
Conservation is a Key Strategy for Reducing Dependence on Fossil Fuels
There is no one quick-fix for weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels and the future will likely see a combination of sources--from wind and ocean currents to hydrogen, solar and, yes, some use of biofuels--powering our energy needs. The “elephant in the living room” that is often ignored when considering energy options, however, is the hard reality that we must reduce our consumption, not just replace it with something else. Indeed, conservation is probably the largest single “alternative fuel” available to us.…...

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