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Science in seconds - Biofuels

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Science in Seconds Know Everything RUMOURS - Biofuels Rheanna Sand: Fossil fuels. The name conjures up images of smokestacks and oil spills. Now think about biofuels. Instead, pristine green fields and cars with rainbows for exhaust. But are biofuels really a greener alternative? Biofuels do have the benefit of not relying on limited underground deposits. They're extracted from living plants or bacteria. The product is not crude oil or gasoline, but an alcohol, such as ethanol or isobutanol. But what is the cost of growing fuel crops? First generation biofuels, like biodiesel, are made from simple starches that come from the parts of the plant we normally eat. If you add up all the energy and pollution, turns out there's only a small benefit to using crops in this way, which disappears when you consider the riots that ensued in regions where food is scarce. Second generation biofuels are slightly better, because they use the discarded parts, like corn husks, to create fuel. Yeast or fungus breaks down tough cellulose into sugar, and then into ethanol. However, some researchers have suggested that nitrous oxide emissions from this process are high enough to make the projects do more harm than good. Third generation biofuels seem to be our best hope. Engineered bacteria and algae can now create alcohol from carbon dioxide. This extremely useful sludge could be grown near big polluters and soak up CO2 while releasing isobutanol. Of course, burning that fuel results in more greenhouse gases, leaving us with the problem we started with. But, if we can engineer bacteria that soak up CO2 to make fuel, why couldn't we engineer bacteria that eat CO2 and make oxygen, or a fresh pine scent? Just throwing that out there. Courtesy of Science in Seconds – All rights reserved Only for educational/non-profit purposes. (Translators are invited to put their name here)

Video Details

Duration: 2 minutes and 3 seconds
Year: 2010
Country: United States
Language: English
License: All rights reserved
Producer: Science in Seconds
Director: Science in Seconds
Views: 102
Posted by: tradottiinitaliano on Sep 10, 2011

Will biofuels solve the world's energy problems?

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