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Will Planes eventually run on biofuel ?


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Recently, the first bio-fuel powered commercial plane took off from Mexico city and flew to Madrid in Spain. Right now, natural materials such as algae, jatropha and camelina are the main source from which biofuel can be produced. But as always, investment seems to be lacking. Furthermore, for infant enterprises to compete against already established industries like the Petroleum and Ethanol lobby is really difficult.

Airline companies have been trying to cut down costs and when oil prices keep rocketing from time to time, this new form of Fuel should help to curb the costs. So, do you think that other big airline companies will follow suit? And what do you think about these powerful lobbies at work?

Will the powers that be give a chance to biofuel ?

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I think if it will be cheaper than what they are using as fuel and it will be a reliable fuel (abundant source), it could be possible that they will become interested in using it. Businessmen will always want something that will give them more profit. The good news if its happens is that it is more environmental friendly.

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I am not so sure about biofuels. For example:

In 2008 Jean Ziegler, UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, called for the suspension of biofuels production saying biofuels are a “crime against humanity.”

And according to a secret World Bank report obtained by the Guardian in 2008 biofuels have increased global food prices by up to 75%.

The same year the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) Scientific Committee called for the suspension of EU’s target to increase the share of biofuels used in transport to 10% by 2020.

More reading:

"A United Nations food agency called on Tuesday for a review of biofuel subsidies and policies, noting that they had contributed significantly to rising food prices and the hunger in poor countries."

UN: Global food prices reach record high, in ‘danger territory’ - "Adding to the severity of the situation is the possibility of inflation spikes, increased subsidies for biofuel which puts added pressure on corn production, and food futures markets."

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Right now, natural materials such as algae, jatropha and camelina are the main source from which biofuel can be produced.

As far as I know those 3 materials are not competing with food crops, so there should be no direct consequences for global hunger. As long as we are not using food crops then biofuel should be a viable alternative. That is until we learn more about it.

There's still the thing about its longterm effect on the soil, and algae produce about 45% of the worlds oxygen. I don't know what the consequences are on a larger scale, but biological oil is a source of oil that is replenishable unlike mineral oil. It is certainly an alternative that is worth checking out.

What does biofuel leave in terms of waste?

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As far as I know those 3 materials are not competing with food crops, so there should be no direct consequences for global hunger.

Well, except algae those other two plants could potentially compete with food crops. But the serious problem is that the majority of food crops we grow goes to feed our cattle and meat industry instead of ourselves. For example, in Sweden around 80% of the agriculture land is used to grow crops for the meat industry. In the US 80% of the corn crops grown is used to feed the meat industry.

As long as we are not using food crops then biofuel should be a viable alternative.

Algae is an interesting biofuel source. It could potentially be grown in our cities or in larger scales out in the desert, like here:

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But the serious problem is that the majority of food crops we grow goes to feed our cattle and meat industry instead of ourselves. For example, in Sweden around 80% of the agriculture land is used to grow crops for the meat industry. In the US 80% of the corn crops grown is used to feed the meat industry.

That is indeed a problem, especially when seeing how much of the meat we have produced go to waste. That and a whole host of other problems with the way we farm in the west. However this is a different issue and is not directly linked to biofuel. But growing algae in the desert sounds promising. Nothing else grows there anyway, and it would add to global the oxygen production. I don't know if you've heard, but we might face another huge problem with the declining levels of oxygen in the air.

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However this is a different issue and is not directly linked to biofuel.

Well it is a problem when you consider the fact that we have a limited amount of arable land and we have to choose wisely what to grow there.

Nothing else grows there anyway, and it would add to global the oxygen production. I don't know if you've heard, but we might face another huge problem with the declining levels of oxygen in the air.

Aye, I imagine a problem could be to get freshwater there tho.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The food crisis is a result of increased biofuel production around the world, writes Timothy Searchinger:

"Our primary obligation is to feed the hungry. Biofuels are undermining our ability to do so. Governments can stop the recurring pattern of food crises by backing off their demands for ever more biofuels."

It's also worth noting that not all biofuels are the same. As has been previously mentioned here in this topic there are certain kinds of biofuels, such as algae, that can be harvested from otherwise non-farmable land.

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  • 1 month later...

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